All the Hannibal girls’ basketball team needed was some confidence. A huge first quarter gave the Lady Pirates just what they needed as Hannibal cruised to a 63-46 win over South Shelby Friday night to take home the third place trophy at the Highland Tournament.
“We held them to about our average that we have been holding teams to,” Hannibal assistant coach Mike Blase said. “We are holding teams to right around 47 points and we were able to extend our numbers tonight because the ball went into the hole. ... I am very pleased with the girls’ efforts. It was a solid defensve effort for the girls.”
Right from the opening tip, the Lady Pirates were scoring. Hannibal outscored South Shelby 20-9 in the opening eight minutes of play to set the pace for the game.
“It was a very solid first quarter,” Blase said. “They (South Shelby) started off in a 1-2-2 zone and we were able to get inside and offensive rebound real well and we were able to hit perimeter shots. We had three three-point shots in the first quarter.”
The Lady Cardinals battled back in the second quarter, but were still outmatched. Hannibal again outscored South Shelby 19-16 to extend its led to 14 points, 39-25, heading into the intermission.
“They got out of their zone and went into some man coverage (in the second quarter),” Blase said. “We got some inside scoring in the second quarter. We had 20 points in the first and 19 in the second. Those are two of our most solid quarters all year.”
While the Lady Pirates (5-5) extended their lead in the second quarter, the game remained competitive.
“It was up and down the court,” Blase said. “We were trading baskets and it was a very solid game for us.”
After two offensive quarters of play in the first half, the halftime break might have been the only thing that could slow the Lady Pirates down. But according to Blase, it was turnovers that did Hannibal in during the third quarter.
“We weren’t hitting the shots,” Blase said. “We had a few turnovers in that third quarter and we didn’t make the best decisions in some of our halfcourt play.”
For the first time all game, South Shelby managed to outscore Hannibal, but not by much. The Lady Cardinals scored eight points in the third quarter while holding Hannibal to just six.
“We had just the six points in the third quarter,” Blase said. “But, they only scored eight. It was a good defensive battle. ... I will take 20, 19, and 18 and take my chances with that. If we score in the 50s, I think we have a very good chance of winning those games.”
With its lead down to 12 points heading into the final eight minutes of play, the Lady Pirates got their offense going again. Hannibal scored another 18 points while holding South Shelby to 13 to secure the win.
“We had a very solid first half,” Blase said. “In the second half we continued to maintain the lead and then in the fourth quarter we extended it.”
Coming into the tournament, Hannibal was seeded No. 6 out of eight teams. To win the third place trophy, the Lady Pirates beat No. 3 seed Clark County in the first round. After losing to No. 2 seed Macon in the semifinals, the Lady Pirates pulled off their second upset of the tournament by beating No. 4 seed South Shelby.
Lauren Holliday led Hannibal with a team-high 16 points. Theresa Sheffer also scored in double figures, finishing the night with 13 points. The Lady Pirates also got scoring from Kylee Anderson and Anasia Elder, both of whom contributed 9 points while Melanie Blase and Paige Utterback each chipped in 8 points for the Lady Pirates.
Next up for Hannibal is the “Pink Out” game in Palmyra. The Lady Pirates will travel to Palmyra on Tuesday to take on the Lady Panthers. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.