CHEYENNE – A big second quarter helped the second-ranked Natrona County girls basketball team pull away from Cheyenne Central on Saturday morning.

After trailing entering the frame, the Fillies took control in the second quarter and found success by switching up defensive looks. It led to a 22-point quarter and a 56-43 win at the Taco John’s Invitational.

“We made a couple adjustments in times when we could talk, and we didn’t adjust on the floor,” Central coach Glen Kirkbride said. “What got us was that 1-3-1 (zone defense) in the three-quarter court, and we didn’t ever adjust. We were hiding behind it and (we went to what we wanted to) twice, and both times it worked beautifully.”

The Lady Indians didn’t struggle with the full-court pressure from Natrona early on. Behind 10 points from senior Roree Cowley, Central held a 15-11 lead after a first quarter that featured four lead changes.

But junior Megan Hagar quickly forced another lead change. Hagar scored seven consecutive points to start the second quarter, forcing a Central timeout with 6 minutes, 48 seconds to play in the half. Hagar turned two Central turnovers into buckets, which came from the Fillies’ defensive switch-ups.

“We definitely had our ups and downs with them switching their defense from full-court man to their zone press that they were in,” Cowley said. “We needed to hit the middle and get it down the court, and when we needed it, we did it, and it worked.”

The second quarter saw two more lead changes and a tie before senior Emma Patik nailed a 3-pointer for a 24-21 Natrona advantage, which it didn’t lose for the remainder of the contest. Patik and Hagar combined for 18 second-quarter points, and they held a 33-26 lead at halftime.

Central (2-7) came out of the half and cut its deficit to 33-30, but a free throw and a Hagar 3-pointer that came from an offensive rebound pushed the Fillies’ lead back to seven.

Central was able to get out and run the floor more effectively in the third quarter, which wasn’t allowing Natrona to get set up in its defense.

“We’re not the biggest team, but we do run and run well,” Cowley said. “So I think us running the court really well helps us out a lot … we’re able to tire out teams and force them to keep subbing.”

With an even-matched third period, Central gave itself a chance to close the gap in the fourth. However, it couldn’t get much offense going. Outside of a 3-pointer from Mia Gerig with 4:15 to play, the only other four fourth-quarter points came with less than 1:38 remaining, when the game was out of reach.

Cowley led Central with 16 points, and junior Morgan Kirkbride added eight. Hagar had a game-high 23 points, and Patik netted 17 for the Fillies.

Natrona found most of its success scoring off Central’s 20 turnovers, which is when the Indians are looking to clean up.

“Our big thing is to just keep improving every day; we talk about it a lot,” Glen said. “We had some glaring weaknesses early that we’ve really worked hard to address, and now we’re in a situation where some of those are getting fixed, and so now we need to shore up a few of the other things, and turnovers is definitely one of them.”

NATRONA 56, CENTRAL 43

Natrona County……. 11 22 10 13 – 56

Cheyenne Central…. 15 11 10 7 – 43

Natrona County: Swan 5, Hagar 23, Blom 2, Patik 17, Sybrant 6, Bright 1.

Cheyenne Central: Mirich 1, Baillie 3, Gerig 3, Kirkbride 8, Gillam 6, Cowley 16, Tempel 4, Allen 2.

Rock Springs 46
Cheyenne Central 38

CHEYENNE – Rock Springs outscored Cheyenne Central 17-5 during the third quarter to rally for a 46-38 victory on Saturday evening.

The spark for that spurt came late in the first half, Glen Kirkbride said. Tigers’ senior guard Brenli Jenkins hit a step-back 3-pointer from well beyond the arch that trimmed Central’s lead to 19-15.

“We held her to four up to that point, and then she hit a deep 3 that hit nothing but the bottom of the net right before half,” Kirkbride said. “That took the wind out of us. We dug ourselves a bit of a hole and had a hard time getting out of it.”

Jenkins led all scorers with 21 points.

ROCK SPRINGS 46, CENTRAL 38

Rock Springs…… 3 12 17 14 – 46

Cheyenne Central…… 9 10 5 14 – 38

Rock Springs: James 4, Anderson 9, B. Jenkins 21, Brewster 12.

Cheyenne Central: D. Mirich 2, Baillie 8, Gerig 6, M. Kirkbride 8, Gillam 4, Cowley 7, Clements 0, Kam. Tempel 1, Allen 2.

Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at rmunoz@wyosports.net. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.

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