LEBANON — The first-round jitters made an appearance, but they didn’t stick around very long.
Badin High School’s girls basketball team had a 7-6 lead over Clinton-Massie in the final 80 seconds of the first quarter Saturday afternoon. Then the Rams scored 35 consecutive points.
Runs like that don’t happen every day, so it was something to see in Badin’s 54-10 triumph in a Division II sectional opener at Lebanon.
GIRLS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT COVERAGE
“We were so nervous at the beginning,” Rams junior guard Claire MacGowan admitted. “We didn’t want to underestimate them at all because it’s the tournament and anything can happen. We worked our butts off all week coming into this game knowing that we could win or lose.
“All I know is we’ve got to be relentless and have a ton of energy no matter if you play 30 seconds or 13 minutes. You’ve just got to get out there and play. I think that’s what we did.”
Badin’s defensive pressure had the Falcons looking bewildered most of the day. They didn’t score in the second period and piled up 23 of their 31 turnovers in the first half.
“Everybody’s going to be nervous the first game of the tournament because this is what you play for all year,” Rams coach Tom Sunderman said. “Once we settled down, I think we put the foot on the pedal, and we were just relentless on defense.
“We talked about how they were good ball handlers, but they’re not a very strong passing team. Once we started getting them to throw passes all over the gym and got our transition going, it was pretty much lights out.”
Emma Broermann tallied 16 points and six rebounds for third-seeded Badin (16-7). Emily Maher had 10 points and five boards as the Rams put 11 players in the scoring column. Grace Larkin chipped in five steals, three assists and three rebounds.
Badin played without Shelby Nusbaum and Emma Adams due to sickness. They’re expected to return Tuesday when the Rams face No. 9 Fenwick (10-13) in a second-round contest at 7:30 p.m. at Lebanon.
“Our ultimate goal is to go to state,” MacGowan said. “We’ve been saying that all season and, honestly, we’d all do anything to get to state. We have a great mentality, we have a great mojo, and everything flows together. I think we have a really great group of girls.”
“When we’re playing well, we’re a hard out,” Sunderman said. “We’re beatable, and everybody knows that. But I think when we’re playing together and we’ve got 10-11 girls buying in and everybody’s contributing and not taking possessions off, I like our chances.”
Massie, the No. 13 seed, got four points and six rebounds from Kenzie Avery. Falcons coach Tim McGraw said he knew what the Rams would bring to the floor Saturday. There just wasn’t much he could do about it.
“You try to practice these things and simulate that pressure, but it’s not easy to do,” McGraw said. “They were just much more physical than we were. We were outmatched … that’s why we played the zone.
“We hoped they wouldn’t make a lot of outside shots, but they did, and their pressure really got to us. They sped us up and made things uncomfortable for us. They’re going to be a tough out. Whoever beats them is going to earn it.”
His team finished 8-15, yet McGraw took some pride in that. Massie started the season 0-7.
“That tells you a lot about the group I have,” McGraw said. “At 0-7, you could’ve quit easily, but they didn’t do that. So I’ve got to credit the girls.”
Badin converted five 3-pointers, four in the opening half. MacGowan hit two of those treys during a 26-second span in the second quarter.
“I try to take up my role as best I can,” MacGowan said with a smile.
The Rams are turning their focus to Fenwick, which surprised Chaminade Julienne 38-35 in Saturday afternoon’s nightcap at Lebanon.
Badin defeated the Falcons 53-35 on Dec. 8 at Mulcahey Gym in Hamilton.
“That was a while ago,” Sunderman said after watching the Fenwick-CJ game. “That game doesn’t mean anything right now. What matters is what happens Tuesday night. I think they were going through a period where they were having a little lack of chemistry in December. From what I saw today, there was a lot of chemistry out there.
“They looked very energized on the floor and on the bench. That’s important. That’s what we tell our girls all the time. It’s not just how you conduct yourself on the floor. It’s how you conduct yourself off the floor too.”
CLINTON-MASSIE (8-15): McKenna Crawford 1 0 2; Faith Cottrell 1 0 2; Kenzie Avery 2 0 4; Miranda Crawford 1 0 2. Totals: 5-0-10
BADIN (16-7): Jaelynn Scowden 1 0 3; Emily Maher 4 1 10; Grace Larkin 1 0 2; Mickayla Kowalski 2 1 5; Emma Broermann 6 4 16; Claire MacGowan 2 0 6; Emma Melzer 1 0 3; Jillian Smith 1 0 2; Jayla Starks 1 1 3; Maddie Thompson 1 0 2; Jada Pohlen 0 2 2. Totals: 20-9-54
3-pointers: B 5 (MacGowan 2, Melzer, Scowden, Maher)