Jon Dawson's halftime message was simple.
“I told them to get their butts in gear,” the Willard coach said.
The Crimson Flashes scored the first seven points of the second half and used the momentum to cruise to a 51-33 non-conference road win over Perkins Tuesday night.
“We are always preaching to get after it for 32 minutes and for whatever reason in the first half, I didn't think our intensity was there,” Dawson said. “We were just kind of going through the motions and all that kind of stuff. I thought our intensity picked up for whatever reason in the second half.”
Perkins (6-8) controlled the tempo early in the first half, and was able to stay withing 4-6 points by drawing out their possessions.
“We knew that coming in and I thought that was part of the problem in the first half,” Dawson said. “We kind of let them dictate the tempo of the game and I didn't want a low scoring game like that. We talked about defensive pressure. We have to get transition going and get the game going up and down. If we let them hang around like that, they gain more confidence.”
The Flashes (13-2) got a quick five points from Maggie King to open the second half and Hannah Adams followed it up with two free throws to break open Willard's lead to 13.
The Pirates finally scored at the five minute mark of the third quarter on a free throw by Abbey Seeholzer and a jumper from Summer Seitz. The Flashes closed out the quarter on a 6-2 run though, that gave them a 14 point lead heading into the fourth.
“When it really started to get away, we were down 10, we got a breakout and a steal but we missed the layup,” Perkins coach Ray Neill recalled of the third quarter. “They got that rebound and got the basket. It just got ugly from there on our part.”
The Pirates shot just 18 percent in the second half and only 25 percent on the night.
“We need to put the ball in the basket,” Neil said. “We just struggle to do that. I don't have anything profound to say other than you have to put it in the basket to give yourself a chance. We had a chance at halftime at 24-18 but gave up the first seven points.”
The Flashes, meanwhile, shot 45 percent from the field on the night, and got 17 points and six rebounds from freshman CeCe King.
“I think these last three or four games she has started to feel more and more comfortable out there,” Dawson said. “At the beginning (of the season) we battled with some unnecessary fouls and got her in trouble. Now I think she feels a lot more comfortable out there doing what we thought she was capable of all along. She was definitely big tonight. I think she is really starting to turn the corner for us.”
Adams added nine points for Willard while Maggie King added seven.
“This is really an unselfish group,” Dawson said. “We've had several different kids lead us in scoring. A lot of time we score 50 some points and have nobody in double figures. It's a really well-balanced team and they do a great job of sharing the basketball, and that's when we are at our best.”
Hallee Smith led Perkins with 10 points.