HAMBURG — Trinity coach Kristi Britten couldn’t help but be pleased with the situation at halftime.
After playing without leading scorer Briana Betz-White for a majority of the first half, Trinity still found itself in the lead. With their senior leader back in the lineup to start the third quarter, things were only looking up.
However, Hamburg had a different plan. With just 11 first-half points to their name, the Hawks fired back. Thanks to a revamped offense and 23 points in the fourth quarter, No. 15 Hamburg took down No. 18 Trinity, 45-30, Friday night in the preliminary round of the District 3-AAA playoffs at Hamburg Area High School.
With the win — the Hawks’ first playoff victory in team history — Hamburg moves on to play No. 2 Palmyra Wednesday.
With a new four out, one in approach, Hamburg’s comeback started and ended with its own leading scorer, Kassidy Lesher. After Trinity held her to just a single field goal in the first two quarters, she tallied 18 points in the second half.
“When they isolated her, we struggled,” Britten said. “(Miranda) Nixon did a nice job with her in the center. You just can’t foul her because she’s so good from the free throw line.”
At times, fouling Lesher was all the Shamrocks could do, though. While standing at 6-foot-2, the Hawks senior center managed to move well with the ball inside, creating matchup problems for any defender.
Of her game-high 20 points, 12 came from the foul line, where she finished 12-of-16. Lesher also added 12 rebounds to her stat line.
“We knew Kassidy could move up and down the floor and we just hoped that would have a positive effect for us,” Hamburg coach Mike Garman said. “We didn’t do a very goof job in the first half of getting her the ball, but in the second we got her the ball. Then she converted.”
Trinity led as late as the start of the fourth quarter. With the contest going back and forth at the time, Maddie Christensen connected on a runner from the baseline, giving the Shamrocks a 23-22 edge. However, it was their last lead of the night.
The Hawks ran off 14 straight points — eight coming from the foul line — to put the game out of reach.
“We shot well early, but in the second half we just couldn’t get anything to drop,” Britten said. “There’s not much you can do about that.”
Early on, neither side could make a move. In the first three quarters, the margin was never more than two. Until Hamburg made its final push, the two teams saw the lead change 16 times.
In the first half, that benefitted the Shamrocks, who were without Betz-White. The senior guard drove through the lane with just over two minutes left in the first before taking a hard fall, landing on her elbow, on a layup attempt. She didn’t return until the third quarter.
Betz-White finished with a team-high six points.
“The eight girls who played tonight played hard,” Britten said. “I thought we had them. We just came up very short in the end.”
Email Christopher Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @chopkins44