Sophomore Jenny Schlim had a big game for the Coe Brown girls basketball team on Wednesday night, scoring 20 points and leading the bears to a comeback win over their rival Oyster River. Coe Brown was down 39-33 after 3 quarters, but they outscored the Bobcats 25-7 in the 4th quarter to win it 58-46.
"I put 5 sophomores out on the floor to start the 2nd half" said Coe Brown head coach David Hartnett. "With the type of defense we play we can't have jogging. I only play one way. We need to apply constant pressure defense to compete with teams like Portsmouth and Oyster River."
Coe Brown picked up their defensive intensity, holding Oyster River to just 17 points in the 2nd half. They were pressing and forcing turnovers. And offensively they were getting buckets from Schlim (game-high 20 points), Debbie Peabody (7 points), Sarah Curtain (9 points) and Madison Stowell (4 points). Schlim made a good move inside for an and-1 finish. Then Curtain banked in a 3-pointer to pull the Bears within a point at 44-43 with 4:43 left to play. That's when Schlim really took over, as she hit back-to-back 3-pointers of her own, and just like that Coe Brown went up 49-44 with 2:58 left.
"Jenny has been our go-to player all year" said Coach Hartnett. "Any game where she has taken 12 or more shots we have won."
Brier Brooks, Curtain, Sadie Steffen, Peabody and Abbie Ahearn all knocked down their free throws late in the game to push the lead up to the 58-46 final.
"Our free throws have always been key" said Schlim. "We know that's what wins our games."
There is no question that the turning point in this game was at halftime. Oyster River led 29-21 at the half, and during the intermission the Coe Brown players went into their locker room. Coach Hartnett didn't go in there to talk to them though. He stayed out on the bench along with his assistan coaches. He finally went into the locker room with 2:00 left in the halftime break, and then came back out on the court just a minute later.
"It's been like this all year" lamented Hartnett. "We always start slow."
Then in the 2nd half, with all sophomores out there, Coe Brown picked up their defensive intensity and started to move the ball better on offense.
"We knew we could get back in the game, because we beat them last time" Schlim explained.
Right when the Bears were starting to make a comback in the 3rd quarter, freshman forward Sara Messler (8 points) nailed an 18-footer off the catch with a hand right in her face to put the Bobcats up 37-33 with 2:40 left. Cow Brown answered right back though, as junior guard Brandie Valentine drove to the basket and made a nice pass to Schlim for a layup. Then in the beginning of the 4th quarter, Curtain hit a 15-footer to really get things rolling for Coe Brown as they now trailed by just 2 points, 40-38 with 5:55 left.
"Sarah has worked her tail off since last year" said Hartnett. "She wasn't even on JV last year, she was on the freshman team. But she has gotten a lot better and is now in the best shape on the team."
Oyster River was still up by 2 at that point though, and then junior point guard Jenny Mistretta (team-high 15 points) hit a BIG 3-pointer off the catch on a baseline out of bounds play. That put Oyster River back up by 5, 43-38.
But it was all Coe Brown from there, as they outscored Oyster River 20-3 over the game's final 4 minutes to secure the victory and improve to 10-7 on the season.
"We were just pushing the ball up the floor and creating shots" said Schlim, who also had double digit rebounds in addition to scoring 20 points.
For Oyster River, it was a disappointing game. They were at home, on senior night, and had a lead against a good team. But they just couldn't hold on to it.
"It is a repeat of the last time we played them" said Oyster River head coach Dave Nichols. "In that game we had them through 3 quarters too but lost the lead. We stopped playing tough defense. We didn't set up our press breaker right, and we didn't set good screens."