BULLHEAD CITY — The epitome of “A tale of two halves” transpired Friday night inside The Battleground at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center.
During the first 16 minutes against Salome High, the Lady Patriots rode sure-handed Natali Handlin and suffocating defense to orchestrate a 12-7 halftime lead.
After intermission, the game couldn’t have been more different. The visiting Lady Frogs caught fire and hopped their way to an overwhelming 40-21 win.
Handlin said she and her teammates need to change their on-court mindset.
“We have to work on not letting things get in our heads, getting too worked up,” said Handlin, who led MALC with 11 points. “We got too down on ourselves.”
That didn’t appear to be the case before halftime, as the Lady Patriots controlled the paint and never trailed.
Not long after the break, the game turned on a dime. Before you knew it, the visitors leapt to a 15-12 advantage. MALC used a timeout to discuss strategy, but the scoring drought continued.
By contrast, Salome couldn’t seem to miss, with a dozen unanswered points to build a 19-12 lead.
Handlin restored order with a putback and outside jumper, but the Lady Frogs stayed in front 23-17 as the third quarter came to a close.
That was the nearest MALC would get. The visitors kept hustling, diving, forcing steals and crashing the boards.
Down the stretch, it became less of a basketball game and more of a free-throw clinic conducted by Salome.
MALC coach Neil Sherrill didn’t mince words after the decisive loss lowered his team’s overall record to 4-8.
“The main problem was foul trouble,” he said, noting a 17-3 differential in infractions. “We also missed rebounds.”
As for the Lady Patriots’ next contest Tuesday at Bagdad?
“We have to move our feet, keep our hands out and play better defense,” said Sherrill.