FLORENCE — Tristen Brunson threw up a prayer at the buzzer. It banked off the glass and went back down through the net. It was the first basket for Florence in eight minutes.
Salado used a trap defense to shut down the Lady Buffaloes and roll to a 52-31 win Friday at Florence.
“Defense is our key,” Lady Eagles coach Diane Konarik said. “We have great sprinters and quick girls. We get a lot of pressure on the ball and make teams nervous. Defense is our key and that is how we play.”
Florence started the game with three quick baskets by Nikki Morgan, who led Florence with 13 points, and used a 10-0 run to go ahead 10-5 with 3:10 left in the first quarter.
“We were happy to see Nikki drive,” Florence coach Drake Stanczak said. “She loves to post up, but she is undersized, so it is nice to get her up on the wing some and give her some room to drive up to the basket. Early on she carried us.”
Salado, though, made its next five shots from the field, including a pair of jumpers from senior guard Meredith Ward. The result was an 11-0 run and a lead it did not relinquish.
Florence senior Abby Hattaway hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter, but the Lady Buffs did not hit another shot until Brunson’s 3-pointer to end the half.
By that point, the Lady Eagles (7-8, 2-0 22-2A) had outscored Florence (10-6, 0-2) 14-1 in the second quarter.
“We started out well,” Stanczak said. “We knew they were going to trap us and we knew we had to reverse the ball and get out of the trap, but the difference was, once we got a little bit tired, we could not reverse the ball very well. We had a lot of balls deflected, had a lot of turnovers and could not get back on defense.”
Salado continued its pressure in the third quarter, as Ward, who led the Lady Eagles with 15 points and five steals, scored back-to-back baskets to put Salado up 38-18.
Morgan scored six more points to pull Florence back within 16, but it never got closer.
“We watched film on them and I think we lowered our playing ability (in the first quarter),” Konarik said. “We got after it in the second quarter and really picked it up. They knew they were not playing the way they were capable of and they came back and won. A win is a win though.”