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Girls' Basketball: Raptors win comfortably on second-half effort

East Ridge guard Lauren Johnson drives the lane in the second half against Burnsville. (Photo by John Molene)1 / 3
Center Kelen Kenol of the Raptors goes up front against a pair of Burnsville defenders in the second half Wednesday. (Photo by John Molene)2 / 3
Sophomore guard Linnea Yacovella drives the lane in the second half. Yacovella came off the bench to give the Raptors a lift, scoring nine points and playing solid defense. (Photo by John Molene)3 / 3

It was a tale of two halves in a rare Wednesday game for the East Ridge Raptors.

East Ridge struggled in the first half, especially defensively, but then poured it on in the second in a comfortable 83-55 win over visiting Burnsville.

The Raptors outscored the Blaze 14-0 in the first four minutes of the second half, turning a tenuous 37-31 lead into a commanding 51-31 advantage. Burnsville never recovered and trailed by 20-some points the rest of the way.

“We talked, both ends of the floor, offensively we needed to be better,” East Ridge head coach Glen Wurm said. “Now granted, we had 30-plus points in the first half. So I just thought we just needed to do a better job of moving the ball and finding people.”

“I thought because we didn’t do that at times that kind of led to us, defensively, with some lapses,” Wurm added. “I honestly thought it carried over from one end to the other. We need to do a better job of just guarding the person we’re guarding, keeping the person in front of us, making sure we’re taking responsibility for blocking our player out. (There were) far too many offensive rebounds.”

The Raptors did that in the second half, playing better on both ends of the court.

“They executed what we had talked about at halftime,” Wurm said.

East Ridge improved to 3-1 on the season. Burnsville slipped to 0-2.

“At halftime, we talked about executing better, and playing defense and boxing out,” East Ridge guard Lauren Johnson said. “So we worked to execute our plays.”

Senior center Mariah Sexe got the Raptors rolling in the second half by muscling in for a 3-point play. Guard Noelle Tomes drained a 3-point field goal, and Emma Stoehr drove for a two and just like that it was a 47-31 game.

Tomes hit another three to make it a 56-33 East Ridge lead with 12:15 to play and coach Wurm started going heavily to the bench the rest of the game.

“I think we focused more on defense and then once we worked on our defense to get the stops, then the offense kind of came to us,” said Tomes.

Ten Raptors scored points in the game. They were led by Sexe who muscled her way inside for 25 points while Tomes dropped in 20. Kelen Kenol scored nine. Off the bench, center Meaghan Rapp had nine and Linnea Yacovella added seven points. The play of Rapp inside and Yacovella outside was welcome as coach Wurm tries to lengthen the Raptors’ bench.

The first half was a bit of a struggle for the Raptors, who played well offensively but also struggled to contain Burnsville’s offense. East Ridge led 19-11 midway through the first half, but Burnsville closed to within 25-24 before a three by Kenol gave the Raptors some breathing room just before the half.

The Raptors take a modest two-game win streak into their next contest, but one of those wins was against highly regarded Park Center.

“We have to keep working hard every day, focusing on passing and played together as a team,” said Johnson.

East Ridge hosts Stillwater (2-2) Friday, starting at 7:15 p.m.