CORTLAND - Something got into the Girard Indians girls' basketball team midway through the third period and it didn't let up until the final buzzer.
What other explanation is there for the transformation that took place in the Indians' 57-44 win over the Lakeview Bulldogs in an All-American Conference, National Division game Thursday? The Indians trailed 37-27 at one point in the third quarter before putting on an impressive display of team basketball in outscoring the Bulldogs, 30-7, the rest of the game.
A combination of many factors flipped the fortunes of the teams. Three 3-point shots by Miranda Boyle in the fourth period provided a huge boost. Bree Bishop dominated the boards in grabbing 12 rebounds, and the Indians' halfcourt game took advantage of the Bulldogs' aggressive defensive play.
"The biggest thing with Lakeview is they're quick and they're big and they love to run the floor, and they press," Indians coach Andy Saxon said. "They'll have runs on you at times. We needed to settle down, pull it back and be more deliberate. They get that run on us in transition; we can't play with them."
The key for Girard was to beat Lakeview's defensive pressure. Once that was done with regularity, the Indians were able to do plenty of damage with their patient play in the halfcourt.
"Once we get into a halfcourt game, we move the ball real well and get some good looks at the basket," Saxon said. "I told them our offense tonight would be beating their press. Once you get them into a halfcourt game, we have a very good chance of winning."
The Indians improved their record to 7-4. Going on the road to defeat the defending AAC National Division champion should provide a spark of confidence for the future.
"We lost a tough one to Champion and were kind of down, but this is a big win for us," Saxon said. "Hopefully it's a stepping stone for the second half of the season."
The Bulldogs (7-4) lost for the first time in the conference after winning four times. It seemed that the Indians were a step quicker in every facet of play.
"They played harder than us, and we didn't listen," Bulldogs coach Adam Lewis said. "That about sums up what happened. They wanted it more than we did. It came down to heart tonight, and we just didn't have it."
The change in momentum began late in the second quarter when Lindsay Durkin made a 3-point shot and Boyle drove for a layup following a steal in the final seconds before intermission. The fielders cut what had been a seven-point Lakeview lead to a 24-22 lead.
A fielder by Michaella Angelo tied the score at the outset of the third period. Lizzy Konitsney followed with a fielder for the Bulldogs, but Durkin's second 3-pointer put the Indians ahead, 27-26.
The Bulldogs went on an 11-point run and appeared on the verge of pulling away. Saxon called a timeout to settle down the players, and everything fell into place.
"I never felt that we were comfortable," Lewis said. "Even when we had a lead, I didn't feel comfortable. Coming off the break this was our first day back to school. I'm not trying to make excuses, but we weren't playing our style of basketball."
The Indians went on an 18-point run before Konitsney made a free throw at the 1:27 mark of the fourth period. Allie Pavlik, who scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half for Lakeview, was held scoreless in the fourth period.
Boyle finished with 15 points. Bishop had 13 and Hayley Spalla added 10.
Konitsney had 11 points.
Girard hosts Struthers Monday. Lakeview entertains Champion Thursday.