December 7th was a long time ago. That was the last time the Bret Harte High School girls’ basketball team walked off the court as victors. During that 27-day stretch, the Bullfrogs went 0-6 and had their overall record fall to 6-7.
Bret Harte desperately needed a win with the Mother Lode League season beginning on Jan. 8. The Bullfrogs were able to pick up the victory that has been eluding them for nearly a month, with a 60-48 win over the McNair Eagles Friday afternoon in Angels Camp.
It had been a long time, but head coach Mitch Hodson could finally smile again after a game.
“We absolutely worked as a team today,” Hodson said. “They’ve been working really hard and came together and that opened up the shots that we needed to get.”
Although the Bullfrogs won by 12, they still fell victim to some of the issues that have crept up all year. Bret Harte committed 21 fouls and had two players foul out. The foul trouble started early, as senior co-captain Hannah Marinics was called for three fouls in the first quarter. But even with one of their leading scorers on the bench, the Bullfrogs only trailed McNair 12-9 at the end of the opening period.
In the second quarter, Bret Harte fell victim to its other fatal plague, which is allowing separation. Senior co-captain Erin Lehrer scored to begin the quarter, which cut the deficit to only one-point. But the Eagles went on to outscore Bret Harte 9-2 to take a 21-13 lead with 5:30 to play in the half.
“When we get down, we need to think that this is still our game and that it’s not over and that we need to stay positive,” said sophomore guard Haylee Maddeaux.
With 4:02 left in the second quarter and down 24-16, the Bullfrogs did something that they have been able to do all season, and that’s going on a big run. In the final four minutes of the half, Bret Harte outscored McNair 12-3. Senior co-captain Bri Simpson started the run with a basket following a rebound and Lehrer did the rest.
Of Bret Harte’s final 12 points, 10 came from Lehrer. All of her points came in the paint, with the final two made at the buzzer, which gave the Bullfrogs a 28-27 halftime lead. Lehrer finished the first half with 16 points, all of which came in the second quarter.
“When I saw that Hannah (Marinics) was in foul trouble and Bri (Simpson) was close to getting in foul trouble, I knew that I’m also a captain, so I needed to step up,” Lehrer said about her second quarter performance.
In the final two minutes of the half, Bret Harte went from trailing by seven, to leading by one. As to be expected, the players were not lacking excitement in the locker room.
“We were hyper with lots of energy in the locker room,” Lehrer said. “We tried to not get cocky and stay positive in the third quarter.”
That one-point lead didn’t last long, as the Eagles went back ahead within 30 second of the start of the third quarter. The McNair basket was the last it would get until 1:39 left to play in the period. Led by Simpson, Bret Harte went on a 13-0 run to take a 41-29 lead. Simpson scored nine of those points, while senior Jessie Thompson and junior Tiana Bennett each scored two.
Bret Harte outscored McNair 16-4 in the third quarter, and 28-7 going back to 3:40 left to play in the second.
“That just brought us up even more,” Maddeaux said about the two big runs. “When you get a run, you want to keep going and going and you don’t want to stop.”
Regarding outscoring McNair 28-7, Hodson added, “It had to do with us running our offense. We ran our offense the correct way, which opens up the paint for us. Bri and Erin worked together and worked really hard and each had a huge game. Our defense also played really tough in that stretch, too.”
While Simpson and Lehrer took care of the scoring, Bret Harte’s guards took care of the ball and made sure to make the proper passes. Hodson was pleased with the play from Maddeaux, Hailey Marinics, Morgan Rolleri and Bennett.
“They all really stepped up for us today, but Maddeaux has been working on becoming a point guard,” Hodson said. “She wants to be a leader who can pass the ball and run the offense the right way and it really showed today. She didn’t have a lot of numbers, but she was a big difference maker for us.”
The Bullfrogs entered the fourth quarter with a 44-31 lead, but McNair tried to make things interesting by cutting that to 47-37 with 5:17 to play. But as they did all game, Lehrer and Simpson took control. The two each scored four points to give the Bullfrogs a 55-37 lead, which put the game away.
Lehrer finished the afternoon with 24 points, 20 rebounds and three assists. Simpson had 23 points, 12 boards and two assists. Hannah Marinics had six rebounds, three points and two assists. Hailey Marinics pulled down five boards and had one point. Marinics dished four assists. Thompson had two points, two rebounds and two assists. Rolleri had two points and two boards. Bennett had two points and two boards, while senior Delaney Clements had two points in the win.
Bret Harte finishes the preseason with an even 7-7 record. Mother Lode League play begins Tuesday as the Bullfrogs host Amador at 7 p.m. in Angels Camp.
“Tuesday is a definite must-win,” Lehrer said. “After today, it shows that we can beat an athletic team.”