For the Daily News
Much like a racecar driver stuck in a traffic jam, Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City is a little out of its element when things slow down.
That's why the Lady Hornets got mixed reviews from their coach despite their dominating 79-17 postseason-opening victory against an overmatched Ramsey team Tuesday at the Class 1A South Central Regional.
"Overall I think we did a decent job, but right now I'm after them: It's now or never and we've got to make sure we stay focused," CHBC coach Carolyn Wendte said. "I don't care who we play."
The top-seeded Lady Hornets (22-5) scored the game's first 12 points and never looked back, but Wendte knows her team has some things to improve on as it gets set for its latest regional-title game tilt with NTC rival Altamont on Friday.
"We gave up too many offensive boards and we just talked about our turnovers," Wendte said. "Nine was too many for the pace we played this evening. We had too many unforced turnovers. I can't say we had a lot, but we had too many for what we were doing (offensively)."
CHBC played at an uncharacteristically slow pace on both ends of the floor from the second quarter on. The reason? They blitzed out to a 23-4 first-quarter lead and Ramsey simply had no answer for the defending Class 1A state runner-up's transition game.
The Hornets excelled in every facet in the opening frame, hitting 10 of 17 from the floor while forcing nine Rams turnovers. And the key to their success was no secret.
"I let them run," Wendte said. "We were on our pace. Our brains think better fast. Most kids can slow down their games and think a little bit better, but for whatever reason this group's brains think a little better when we go fast up and down the floor."
Star center Micah Jones came into the game within striking distance of Kendra Thompson's all-time Cowden-Herrick scoring record, and could have easily gotten there, but she opted to distribute to teammates rather than going for the record.
Jones finished with seven assists - passing up many easy baskets that would have probably gotten her the seven points she now needs to get Thompson's record.
She still finished with a game highs of 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Jones will likely break the record on Thursday as the Lady Hornets go for their fourth-straight regional title.
"It is gonna mean a lot to her, it's gonna mean a lot to me, and it's gonna mean a lot to the community," Wendte said. "Like I tell her, ÔWhen it happens, it happens."
Ava Paruleski also had a big all-around game, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Kirby Herrmann and Autumn Riley added 11 points for CHBC, and Ashley Miller contributed eight points off the bench.
Every Lady Hornets player saw significant court time, which could prove valuable down the road.
"This was a grand opportunity for me to get some other kids out there, in case we do get into foul trouble (later in the postseason)," Wendte said. "Or if weather-wise we have to give the other kids a breather. You never know what the weather's gonna be like here in February."
CHBC now focuses on Altamont in the two team's latest postseason battle. Altamont met the Lady Hornets in last year's St. Anthony Regional final and seemingly plays the Lady Hornets in the regional title game on a yearly basis.
"The biggest thing for us right now is play hard and stay focused," Wendt said.
CHBC 79, Ramsey 17
Ramsey 4 7 0 6 - 17
CHBC 23 25 17 14 - 79
CHBC - Ward 2, Morrison 2, Jones 26, Miller 8, Edwards 2, Riley 11, Paruleski 13, Herrmann 11, Hilt 4.
Ramsey - Seaton 8, Cunningham 5, Kimberlin 4, Banal 0.