LAKESIDE - It was halftime, and the Ottawa Hills girls basketball team was struggling.
The Green Bears were trailing Danbury by two points in the Lakers' home gym last night, and it was a game Ottawa Hills needed to win the Toledo Area Athletic Conference title.
So the Green Bears huddled and made a pact.
"The girls talked about it before they went out for the second half," Ottawa Hills coach Sean Mercer said. "They said they were going to set screens for our top players, and they were going to find them.
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"And when [Lauren Abendroth] gets in a rhythm, she can be tough."
Well, Abendroth got into a rhythm, and she sure was tough. She scored 20 of her 25 points in the second half to lead the Green Bears to a 49-35 victory.
With the win Ottawa Hills, 15-4 overall and 11-1 in the TAAC, claimed its second league title in three seasons and its 10th overall.
Danbury, which fell to 14-6 overall and 9-3 in the TAAC, was the aggressor early. The Lakers scored the final eight points of the first quarter to take a 13-4 lead, holding Ottawa Hills scoreless for the final 4:44 of the period.
It didn't help that the Green
Bears committed seven turnovers and made just 2 of 10 shots from the floor.
"I thought we came out in a championship game and played like a championship team," Danbury coach Ryan Beam said. "But Ottawa Hills is a good team, and when you make mistakes, they make you pay for them."
The Green Bears used a 13-2 run midway through the second period to cut the Lakers' lead to two points at the half. A switch from zone to man-to-man defense by Ottawa Hills was a factor in forcing Danbury to make six turnovers in the period and connect on just 3 of 10 shots.
"We came out of the zone because we wanted to give them a different look, and [man-to-man] probably is our strength anyway," Mercer said. "We switched a few times, but for the most part we stuck with man-to-man the rest of the way."
In the third quarter Abendroth got rolling with a 3-pointer, and her rebound basket on the next possession gave the Green Bears the lead for good. She had 12 points in the third quarter alone as OH built a 37-32 lead.
"I think in the first half we came out and weren't ready to play," said Abendroth, who also had seven rebounds. "I started hitting shots, and everyone else really was contributing in a lot of ways, and that got us going."
In the fourth quarter, Danbury gave the Green Bears one last scare, cutting the lead to 37-35 with 6:34 left on a basket and a free throw by Destiny Taylor, who finished with 11 points.
But the Lakers did not score again, and Abendroth added eight points, while Katherine Jamieson scored four of her 10 points in the final minutes to seal the victory.
"I think we lost some confidence," Beam said. "I don't think Ottawa Hills was doing anything different to us - we just lost our edge.
"We came out of the gates going at them offensively, and we did what we needed to do early. But their defense is tough. You really have to be on your game to score against them."