By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON January 8, 2008 The Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs used a strong second half on Thursday night to pull away from the visiting James I. O’Neill Lady Raiders.
SW held a slim 30-27 lead at halftime of the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV basketball game. But the Lady Bulldogs outscored O’Neill (3-5, 1-2 Division IV) by a 12-7 margin during the third quarter and 18 to 11 in the fourth period to record a 60-48 victory.
“Jenn Pitz really saved us,” SW Coach Ron Bernhardt said. “She had a little personal scoring run of about five or seven points in the second half that helped us increase our lead.”
Bernhardt was referring to a time span that stretched from late in the third quarter into the fourth period during which Pitz, a senior point guard, scored a few baskets.
With 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Pitz swished a 3-pointer to give SW (6-1, 3-0 Division IV) a 42-37 advantage.
At the 5:18 mark of the fourth period, Pitz knocked down an 18-foot jumper to push the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 11 points at 50-39.
After O’Neill’s Allison McKearn made a pair of free throws 10 seconds later to cut the SW advantage back to nine points, Pitz answered with a pair of hoops.
She drove to the basket and scored with 4:56 displayed on the scoreboard clock. On the next Lady Bulldogs’ possession, she put up a shot off the glass which then fell through the net to extend the SW lead to 54-41.
Pitz finished the game with 12 points.
Katrina Graby and Sarah Lander led the Lady Bulldogs’ offense with 15 points apiece, while Lindsey Murphy added nine points.
Bernhardt noted that Rachel Houghtaling had a big night by grabbing 11 rebounds despite missing about half of the game due to foul trouble.
“Melanie Kleiner did a nice job,” Bernhardt said of the junior forward who replaced Houghtaling on the court for several minutes. “Melanie gave us a little lift when she came in.”
The veteran coach noted that his team improved as the game progressed.
“We did not play Sullivan West basketball in the first half,” Bernhardt said. “I was very happy with the way everybody, especially Sarah Lander, Katrina Graby and Rachel Houghtaling, played in the second half.”
He added that O’Neill is “a much improved team.”
McKearn scored a game-high 18 points for the Lady Raiders. Teammates Caroline Cannon and Tiana Taylor netted 15 points and 11 points, respectively.
“In every game this season, we have had one bad quarter,” O’Neill Coach Kevin Schoepfer said. “We played pretty well tonight, but they had a scoring run in the fourth quarter. We need to play better for the entire game and not have that one bad quarter.”