WYOMING - Playing their first game of the 2021 portion of the schedule, Midland girls basketball coach Jason Soper had a few things he wanted from his team as the Eagles started their new year with a clean slate hosting Cedar Valley Christian Tuesday, Jan. 5.
“Coming out of the holiday break, I had several things I wanted to become our new normal,” said Soper, as his team crushed the visiting Huskies rolling to a lopsided 70-19 victory, their first of the season.
“The first was to take better care of the ball and lowering our turnovers per game to under 15. Next was getting more shots, somewhere around 55-plus per contest and shooting better than 60-percent from the foul line as a team. This game against Cedar Valley Christian gave us the opportunity to accomplish those goals.”
Midland (1-9, 1-3) held a slim 8-4 lead through the game’s first five minutes of play and 12-7 at the first horn before completely taking control of the contest with a huge second quarter surge.
“With this being our first game back, we had a bit of rust to knock off and CVC played us semi-even though the first quarter,” Soper said. “We had numerous opportunities but just needed to settle into our own after the first eight minutes.
“We knew we had to force turnovers to help create opportunities and additional shots. We did a great job of doing just that.”
As the Eagles began to force the Huskies to turn the ball over, the points began to flow with ease as the hosts went on a 24-5 second quarter spurt and led 36-12 at the half.
“Scoring 24 points in the quarter was a season-high for us,” Soper said. “We did a really good job of being aggressive and sharing the ball. Our shot selection was really good and we put up high-percentage shots.”
Midland’s defense made sure the game would continue to be a blowout holding Cedar Valley Christian scoreless during a 10-minute stretch from the end of the second quarter to the end of the third, as the Eagle offense was also in high gear scoring 20 points in the frame and led 56-15 entering the fourth quarter.
“As we began to stretch the lead it provided a great opportunity to play everyone and everyone was able to contribute,” Soper said. “We continued to create high-percentage shots and I was very pleased with how aggressively we continued to play. The girls just went out, played hard and had fun.”
Even with their reserves on the floor in the fourth quarter, Midland was still able to hold the Huskies to a mere four points in the frame while adding 14 of their own to close out the 51-point rout.
“CVC is a young team and plays very hard,” Soper said. “I was pleased that we were able to gain confidence and execute at a high level. Getting three players in double-figure scoring is key for us to have success, and we got that tonight.”
Ari Hacke led all scorers coming through with 16 points while also adding seven rebounds, three assists and two steals for the hosts. Amaya Terrell drilled three 3-point baskets and tallied 15 points to go with five steals while Ella Rupp chipped in with 13 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Midland’s bench was also productive as Jaden Gatts (6 points), Gracie Franzen (3), Alivia Smith (2), Hannah Fishwild (2) and Karley Schaefer (2) all contributed.
As a team the Eagles connected at a solid 40-percent clip from the field and out-rebounded Cedar Valley Christian 44-26.
Midland looked to start a winning streak Friday, Jan. 8, but a slow start against visiting Clinton Prince of Peace was too tough to overcome in what ended as a 53-35 defeat.
“This was a great opportunity playing at home against the team leading our side of the conference,” Soper said. “Prince of Peace came out really pushing the tempo and the one area we were willing to give up, the 3-point arc, they made three from distance and raced out to a 21-10 lead.”
The Eagles got back into the game with defense, holding the Irish to eight second quarter points while adding nine of their own and trailed 29-19 at the half.
“The second quarter was our all-around best quarter,” Soper said. “We were able to weather the storm and I loved our energy, but we just missed a handful of interior looks.”
Coming out of the break Prince of Peace once again found their offensive rhythm while the Eagles struggled to get theirs back as the visitors took a 20-point (45-25) lead into the final frame.
“We came out flat in the third quarter and had a hard time finding our energy, especially on the offensive end,” Soper said. “We play hard all the time, but it’s about not allowing frustrations to set in and distract us from what we really want to do.”
Allison Paulsen led the hosts scoring eight points while Rupp and Hacke chipped in with six more each. Terrell added five points while Bailie Uppena coming through with four.
“I felt our game plan was appropriate, we just needed to execute better in spots, especially offensively,” Soper said. “I was very proud of the way we battled all game long and excited to continue to get better one game at a time.”