BURLINGTON – Given the frigid weather conditions Friday night, the Burlington Central girls basketball team could not be blamed if it was anxious to complete the game against Richmond-Burton and go home.
Central coach Mark Smith kept reminding the team during the first half that a calmer tempo was needed if the team wanted to leave the gym with a victory.
Central found the right pace of play and defeated Richmond, 51-28, in the Big Northern East Conference game.
“We were going a million miles an hour,” said Smith, who kept yelling “Slow down” from the sidelines during the first two quarters. “I know they are anxious and hyped up. They love to play. When you press, you kind of get into that hectic rhythm, so it’s kind of hard to slow it down. We adjusted well.”
“We got to work on that, slowing down,” said Central sophomore Samantha Pryor, who led all scorers with 19 points. “Slow down and get better looks at the basket.”
Central’s pressing defense forced three Richmond turnovers in the opening minutes of the game that yielded three quick baskets. Central (12-2, 2-0 Big Northern East) led, 20-7, after the first quarter.
“We are preaching to them that quick shots aren’t good and I thought we took a lot of quick shots [in the first half],” Smith said. “When they go in, you get a nice little run, but if they don’t go in then you have to play defense for another 30 seconds.”
Richmond-Burton, which had not played a game since Dec. 20, found its groove in the second quarter. R-B was able to close the gap to seven points with five minutes to play in the half on a Jessica Guenther layup. R-B (5-7, 0-2) outscored Central, 10-9 in the second quarter and trailed 29-17 at halftime.
“I thought we did a really good of shaking off the rust,” Richmond-Burton coach Courtney Ludois said. “I don’t think it took us too long to get back in our rhythm so that was good to see.”
“We kind of go through spurts of energy,” added R-B’s leading scorer, Hannah Koenig, referring to her team’s second quarter play, “When our energy is up, that is working for us.”
Koenig had nine points on the night.
Central found its rhythm in the third quarter with an 11-3 run that started and ended with Samantha Pryor’s 3-pointers. Central doubled up Richmond-Burton, 42-21, by the end of the third quarter.
“When we were patient, we got wide open looks inside,” Smith said. “A few other times we went inside and kicked it out for a wide open three.”
Shelby Holt scored nine points for Central while teammate Samantha Cruz added six.