ATTICA - In the third quarter, Seneca East coach Dave Stallings took a couple glances and was pleased with what he saw.
Anna Hintz, South Central's top scorer, was being held in check. And, with his own top scorer, Seina Adachi, on the bench, his team was holding strong down just five to the 1-loss Trojans.
But the next glance at the scoreboard wasn't as pleasant as things quickly began to spiral away from his team.
Hintz finished with 16 points and nine rebounds as her team built a 14-point lead and went on to post a 66-58 win over Seneca East.
"I don't know what Anna's point-per-game average is, but I think I looked up and with five minutes to go in the third quarter, we had held her to six points," Stallings said. "Problem is, which was my biggest fear, we shut down nobody else. The girls did a great job on her though."
South Central (16-1) built its lead in the first quarter behind strong outside shooting. The Trojans knocked down 5 of 8 shots from behind the arc in the first quarter to take a 24-16 lead at the first stop.
Olivia Blanton started the barrage with a pair of 3-pointers, then Amanda McGahhey closed it out, coming off the bench to hit two late 3s, including one that beat the quarter buzzer.
"They bring (McGahhey) off the bench and I think she replaced Anna when she got two fouls on her," Stallings said. "We don't guard her and she hits two 3s. That's pretty good for your confidence coming off the bench."
South Central coach Becky Hintz said its nothing out of the ordinary for her shooters to get hot.
"We usually have somebody, one of our guards is usually on with outside shots," she said. "We have some nice outside shooters. That definitely helps."
The Trojans began to cool down, hitting just 1 of 10 long range shots in the second and third quarters, but began to pick things up on the defensive end.
"(Seneca East) slowed it down for us," Hintz said. "Once we got into playing our game, that's when we started coming alive. I felt like we were just in slow motion tonight. We got our press on and started running, playing our game. That was key to the win."
South Central held a 33-24 lead at halftime, but Seneca East came out strong in the third quarter to cut into the deficit. Baskets by Adachi, Kirsten Camp and Brittany Brookes got the Tigers within three, but a quick 7-1 Trojan run pushed it back to a nine-point edge.
"We just didn't take care of business," Stallings said. "We lost our composure, which has kinda been our mantra all year. We lose our composure at key points in the game and you see the result."
Seneca East kept battling, getting back within five, but foul trouble began to mount and South Central got the lead back to nine heading to the fourth quarter.
"With three minutes or so to go in the third and Seina's sitting on the bench, and we're only down five, I was feeling pretty good," Stallings said. "Come out of the timeout, give up two quick baskets, back down by nine."
Hintz scored 12 of her 16 in the second half and Blanton knocked down two more 3-pointers to finish with 16 of her own.
"I think a lot of it for us, and I hate to say it this late in the season, is still mental immaturity," Stallings said. "I think we get to that point ... 'OK we're within three now. If I just come down and throw up a 45-footer we may get back in this game right away.' I keep telling them, I told them at halftime, 'You can't make a nine-point basket. You got to just keep battling. Not going to say we didn't battle, we took some plays off, we lost our composure here and there, and this is what happens when that happens."
Adachi scored 19 to lead Seneca East (6-10). Camp added 12 and Amber Enders finished with 10 to go along with nine rebounds. Hannah Hahler scored seven and pulled down 10 boards.