In the midst of a four-game losing streak, Long Reach veteran guards Olivia Callan and Imani Sanders decided to hold a player’s only meeting to straighten things out.
Whatever was discussed in that session inspired the Lightning players, who gave a dominating effort against host Glenelg on Wednesday evening. Long Reach employed a hawking defense and unselfish offense on its way to a 50-24 victory over the Gladiators.
“We were on a losing streak, so we talked yesterday in practice about playing with more effort and picking each other up,” Callan said. “We knew that Glenelg wasn’t an easy team (to beat), so we had to play our hearts out and play together.”
Callan led the Lightning (5-9, 7-10) with a game-high 18 points to go along with six assists, and Gillian Engelbrecht finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Center Kristin Yuan led Glenelg (6-8, 8-9) with seven points and nine boards.
“They really put the onus on themselves to start talking to each other and playing with more intensity,” Long Reach coach Kelli Cofield said. “This was a big game for us. In my four years we’ve never beaten Glenelg. I know they were short-handed but we still had to come out and execute on the defensive end.”
Long Reach held a slim 6-4 lead early before it took control of the game over the final 5 minutes, 18 seconds of the opening quarter. The Lightning held the Gladiators scoreless over that stretch while scoring nine straight points.
Englebrecht had back-to-back buckets sandwiched between a layup by Callan and a three-point play by Katelyn Peterson during the run.
The inspired play continued in the second as Long Reach opened the quarter with another 9-0 run to take a commanding 24-4 lead.
Englebrecht added two more baskets inside, while Alana Ratliffe and Callan each added scores to give the Lightning their biggest lead – a 32-7 advantage at halftime.
“Everyone was scoring and everyone communicated well,” Callan said. “When we play together as a team on offense, it really shows. We’re going to bring this into the next game and the next game after that.”
Glenelg came out of the locker room with a renewed intensity in the second half, forcing four straight turnovers to start the third, but was only able to turn one of those miscues into two points.
Ally Forejt scored all six of her points in the third quarter and Yuan added five more but the deficit was already too large to overcome.
“Their press gave us some trouble because we didn’t executed our press break as quickly as you need to in order for it to work,” Gladiators coach Don Beall said.
“If my math is correct, we created eight turnovers (in the third quarter) and only got one basket out of that. You have to reward yourself for all that work and energy you expend on that press.”
LR: Engelbrecht 11, Sanders 6.
G: Yuan 9, four tied with 2.
LR: Callan 6, Sanders 5.