All game long, Indiana just couldn’t shake Johnstown off.
It turned out, all the Indians needed was to fall behind.
At least momentarily.
Once Johnstown took its first lead early in the fourth quarter, Indiana finally responded with a run to solidify its lead, and the Indians scored their first win of the season by holding off the Trojans, 62-55, in the Indiana Basketball Boosters Tip-Off Tournament girls’ consolation game Saturday afternoon at Fifth Street Gymnasium.
“Once you’re in that fourth quarter, that’s when you know you have to work your hardest, and you want that win,” said junior Lucy Bujdos, who led Indiana with a game-high 23 points and was an all-tournament selection.
Indiana held a 31-27 lead at halftime and played a lackluster third quarter, getting its lead cut to 40-39. Johnstown finally took the lead, 41-40, on Tashalya Smith’s layup at the 7:41 mark in the fourth.
Once that actually happened, though, Indiana responded with a 13-1 run, opening up leads of 48-41 and 53-42, to build a secure edge that held up after another charge from the Trojans at the end of the game.
“We kept falling back, falling back, and we did some scoreboard watching,” Indiana coach Dave Woodall said. “We were getting close and we’d get tight, and those things happen, but we had a good fourth quarter.”
Overall, it was a much more cohesive, fundamentally-sound effort for the Indians than their season opener less than 24 hours previous, a 46-36 loss to Bishop McCort.
“Last night, since it was our first game, we were all really pumped and trying to push too fast,” said freshman Jess Stever, who began her varsity career by starting both games this weekend. “We weren’t really used to playing with each other yet, so we got together as a team. We were more in sync as one.”
“There wasn’t the pressure of being the first game,” Bujdos added, “and it felt good to be out on the court with each other. We knew how each other was starting to play. … Today it almost felt like we were (playing together) all of a sudden, because of last night.”
Stever added 16 points while running the point for Indiana.
“All these girls make me feel really comfortable,” she said. “They push me and they help me if I’m in trouble. We all just help each other.”
Indiana’s press defense was one area that benefited most from a second try on the weekend.
The Indians forced 33 turnovers, including 10 in the fourth quarter to build their lead and stifle the Trojans’ comeback efforts.
“Abbey Karcher did some really great things on defense for us,” Woodall said. “It didn’t show up in the scoring column, but she got a lot of deflections and things like that.”
“Even though we each have a man, we’re doing a good job trapping and helping everybody,” Bujdos said of the press. “We worked together more.”
Indiana shot 13 of 28 (46.4 percent) in the second half and 22 of 60 (36.7 percent) on the day.
The Indians held the edge in the first quarter and held on until the fourth.
“For playing two days in a row, we seemed to have our legs, and our presses worked pretty good,” Woodall said. “We had some really, really good spurts, but we also had those lag periods when we let the other team score five, six points in a row. We’d kind of shoot ourselves in the foot every once in a while. I think it’s going to be that way for a while this season until we really get down. Give them a lot of credit. They took the lead and we called a timeout, said we could win this game, and we went out and did well.”