After a less-than-overwhelming first half performance, the Lebanon Greyhounds, the top-ranked Class 1A girls basketball team in the the stateturned up the heat Monday at Freeburg High School.
The host Midgets had little response.
Junior guard Kendra Bass scored 11 of her 18 points in the second half and Lebanon’s relentless pressure of Lebanon forced 18 second-half turnovers as the Greyhounds pulled away for a 57-41 win over Freeburg in a Cahokia Conference game.
Freeburg (3-5), playing without a senior on its roster, trailed the Greyhounds (9-0) 20-18 at halftime. But after coach Chad Cruthis turned his lightning-quick squad loose in its high pressure, full-court trapping defense, the momentum shifted to Lebanon.
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Senior guard Casey Berberich and Krista and Kendra Bass scored five points each as part of an 18-8 scoring run s the Greyhounds took a 38-26 lead after three quarters. The Midgets would get no closer then nine points for the remainder of the game.
“That was probably the first time all year when we didn’t come out and play what I would call a good first half. We played a zone and we just weren’t very active on defense. But when you don’t play that well and you’re still up by two at halftime, that tells you something right there,” Lebanon coach Chad Cruthis said. “In the second half, we got after it. We applied the full court pressure and we forced Freeburg to play at a faster paced than they wanted.”
Kendra Bass led Lebanon with 18 points while Krista Bass and Berberich added 11 points each for Lebanon.
Freeburg stayed with the Greyhounds in the first two quarters, thanks in a large part to the offense of sophomore guard Lilly Oliver. The 5-5 guard made a pair of 3-pointers as the Midgets put a scare into the Greyhounds.
“I thought we played a good first half,” Midgets coach Lori Crunk said. “We just didn’t react very well and handle their pressure very well in the second half.
“At times, I think we make progress and then we take a step back. We’re a young basketball team and the girls are doing what we’re asking of them.”
Oliver gave Midgets fans one last thrill when she hit her third 3-point jumper, this one from the right baseline, early in the third quarter to tie the game for the last time at 21.
Krista Bass then scored and when Berberich added a basket on a steal and layup 13 seconds later, the Greyhounds had a 25-21 lead. Freeburg, which finished with 28 turnovers, committed 12 in the third period.
“I told the girls and I think they agree with me that right now we’re not the best Class 1A team in the state. That really doesn’t matter right now anyway. But we might be the fastest Class 1A team and if we keep working hard and improving, we have a chance to do some special things this year,” Cruthis said.
“The guard (Oliver) made a couple of threes on us in the first half and then she hit another one on us in the third quarter. I told Krista (Bass) to stay right with her. If she was chewing gum, I wanted to know what flavor it was and if she wasn’t, I wanted to know if she brushed her teeth. We did a good job of forcing turnovers.”
Still, Lebanon led only 31-26 before Kendra Bass scored on a conventional 3-point play and when Krista Bass made a 3-point jumper, the Greyhounds had a 37-26 lead with 2:04 left in the third quarter.
Oliver led Freeburg with 12 points while junior Kayla Mueller added eight.