The Thunder Ridge Longhorns outscored the Waverly Bulldogs 18-9 in the first quarter.
From there, it was all relatively-smooth sailing as the Longhorns cruised to a comfortable 54-44 win over the Waverly Bulldogs Saturday, finishing the 1A State Basketball Tournament with a third-place finish.
Waverly took fourth in the Tournament.
The Longhorns took a 2-0 lead, watched as the Bulldogs tied it at 2-2, then took a 4-2 lead on a basket by senior Elizabeth Hardacre.
Waverly cut the score to a single point at 8-7 on a basket by junior Megan Foster, but Thunder Ridge responded to that basket with a 10-2 run to end the quarter leading 18-9.
That about decided it. Try as they did, the Bulldogs never again threatened to take the lead Saturday.
“Really I don’t know if we were awake the first two or three possessions,” Thunder Ridge head coach Darren Grauerholz said. “We several good looks and stuff, but it was just one of those deals where I just don’t feel like we were ready to get going at 12 o’clock.”
Still, the team composed itself, persevered through the first minute or two.
“Just hat goes off to all the seniors: Just a great job and just a great bunch of kids,” Grauerholz said.
Part of how the team came alive was that they started to get used to what the other team was doing, Grauerholz said.
Part of it was also that the Longhorns had played Central Plains the night before. To be clear, Grauerholz said, Saturday’s game wasn’t “easy” for the Longhorns.
“When you play against a team the calibre of Central Plains is, just everything else becomes so much easier,” Grauerholz said.
Grauerholz said if the teams had flipped and Waverly had played Central Plains instead of his team, the tables in Saturday’s game might have been reversed.
“It’s just the way things match up, the way that things happened, but it’s situations like that that I think really put is in a good spot for today,” Grauerholz said.