The Minneola Wildcat girls basketball team beat the Bucklin Red Aces girls basketball team Friday night to move to 1-2 overall this season.
The 47-30 win for the Wildcats came in the consolation bracket of the Cimarron Invitational.
The Wildcats fell behind 8-2 early as the Red Aces came out playing hard. Wildcats head coach Morgan McClaren called a timeout at that point.
“(I) just told ‘em to calm down,” McClaren said. “I mean they were getting so flustered I think, and then when they see some team start to pull away from ‘em a little bit they start to panic. So I stopped ‘em and said ‘We just need to calm down, we need to relax, there’s a lot of game left to play, and we need to execute.’”
The team responded, executing well and outscoring the Red Aces 11-2 over the course of the rest of the quarter, taking a 13-10 lead into the second.
“‘Make the rules’ is our motto, and they made the rules,” McClaren said. “They decided they were gonna change it, and they did. It’s all about taking the execution and putting it in the game.”
The Red Aces hit a 3-pointer to take the lead at the start of the second and led most of the quarter. The Wildcats tied the game at 22, then took a 24-22 lead with 1:14 left. That was the last time the game was tied. Minneola took a 25-24 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats had struggled in both their prior third quarters. Not Friday. The Wildcats expanded their lead to 28-24 with a 3-pointer by senior Halie Harrington, but it was just the start of a dominant quarter in which the Wildcats outscored The Red Aces 14-3, holding the Red Aces to a single field goal, no 3’s and one free throw.
“I think the biggest thing why (the Wildcats outscored the Red Aces that way) is our defense was tremendous (in the) second half,” McClaren said. “We didn’t do too bad defensively (in the) first half but second half we just came out, we caused ‘em a lot of issues defensively. I always tell the girls defense will make the difference on offense.”
The team also rebounded “10 times better” McClaren said.
“That makes a difference in the game,” McClaren said.
The team took a 39-27 lead into fourth, ending the game by outscoring the Red Aces 22-6 over the course of the second half to end the game 47-30. McClaren said it was great to see the team finish that way.
“Those girls have yet to quit on me, which it’s just so great to see out of this group of girls,” McClaren said. “When they came out and just kept going and going, it was good to see them finally be like ‘No, we’re gonna put the gas pedal to the floor and we’re not gonna stop, and that makes a difference.”
The win was McClaren’s first as a head coach.
“It feels really great,” McClaren said. “I guess what makes it even better is just the effort the girls put in to win it. It wasn’t an easy win: Bucklin is a good team and they are a scrappy team and we play ‘em again in regular season and they will be a tough team again because it’s always tough to play somebody else again. So my hat’s off to them and their effort. I think that’s why the win was such as sweet, humbling win because the girls just kept playing.”