Hannibal girls basketball coach Evan Cerven couldn’t help but explode in anger down 21-7 with 56 seconds left in the second quarter Friday night in Mexico.
He had just watched Mexico senior Reghan Smith walk down the court and drill the game’s first 3-pointer while his lead guards sat back. Smith’s 3 put the finishing touches on a 12-1 run for the Lady Bulldogs in the second quarter, forcing a Hannibal timeout.
“Mexico outworked us across the board,” Cerven said. “They outcoached us and outworked us. When it got to that point, I was past my limits of frustration and tried to get through it the best I could.”
Mexico took advantage of the Lady Pirates’ lack of size in the paint all night. Before Smith knocked down that 3 from the top of the key, Mexico was feasting on the offensive glass and the bulk of its points came within the paint.
This forced Cerven to shift to a 2-3 zone to help eliminate senior Logan Blevins on the offensive glass. Blevins had 11 points in the first half. In Hannibal’s attempt to remove her offensive impact, it opened up more offensive rebounds and 3s for Mexico.
Mexico (2-1) surged to a 55-27 North Central Missouri Conference victory over Hannibal (1-2), which started the week undefeated before a league loss at Moberly.
While Hannibal couldn’t find an answer defensively, Mexico was having success switching things constantly. The Lady Bulldogs rotated between man-to-man, 2-1-2 press and a 2-3 zone to help create confusion.
Mexico held the Lady Pirates to one point in the second quarter while forcing eight turnovers.
“We went to the 2-1-2 full-court press and it felt like it slowed (Hannibal) down,” Mexico coach Ed Costley said. “It gave them a lot to think about. In man, we were playing into what they wanted. … We were waiting to see if they would hit any outside shots, but they couldn’t hit anything from outside. So we stuck with it.”
Hannibal’s woes continued in the second half as the Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-1 run in the third quarter, hit three 3s and outscored the Pirates 21-10. Meanwhile, the Pirates had no outside threat and failed to hit a 3 the entire game.
Blevins matched her first-half total of 11 points in the third quarter. She only had 12 points while shooting 2-for-16 from the field through two games this season after averaging 9.7 per game last year. She did away with her slump by going off for 22 points against Hannibal.
“I came into this game knowing my size advantage and my strength against these girls,” Blevins said. “I was trying to use that to my best ability. … I knew coming into the season I was going to need to be a big scorer and it was kind of a struggle at the beginning of the season.
“But getting to where I am now, I think it’s all worth the wait.”