BAXTER — The reserves for Baxter’s girls’ basketball team on Jan. 6 came to the rescue at the perfect time.
Sophomore Lilie Vansice helped the Bolts overcome a slow offensive start, junior Lexi Samson provided some punch off the bench in place of foul-plagued McKenzie Eslinger and junior Maddie Pierce was instant energy for the Bolts.
The bench scored 28 points in all during Baxter’s 64-11 win over Mormon Trail during non-conference action. It was the Bolts’ fourth straight win.
The Bolts did not have the services of senior Sadie Meyer, too. She missed the game because of an illness.
“Not having Sadie hurt us, but we had great bench play tonight,” Baxter coach Eric Padget said. “It’s been a good win streak, and you have to get good production from everyone when you get those streaks.”
Senior Caitlyn Bruntz got off to a slow start but finished with a game-high 17 points. She also swiped nine steals and dished out seven assists as the Bolts took advantage of a full-court press in the first half.
“Our offense is working really well. We are really balanced,” Bruntz said.
Junior Merrin Ziesman nailed a 3-pointer to put the Bolts up 4-0 early. Vansice then scored six straight points on a jumper, layup and bank shot to extend the lead to 10-0.
Mormon Trail (0-8) scored its first bucket with a minute to play in the quarter.
The Bolts (6-3) outscored the Saints 16-7 in the second quarter and 38-2 in the second half.
Junior Sophie Meyer scored all five of her points in the second quarter. Sophie Meyer and Bruntz both drained 3-pointers in the frame, Samson scored a bucket inside and Pierce and Vansice each made layups.
“It’s nice to know that we have girls who can come off the bench and help us,” Bruntz said. “Kenzie (Eslinger) got into foul trouble so Lexi (Samson) had to come in and she played well. Maddie (Pierce) was great defensively for us, too.”
The only thing that slowed down the Bolts in the first half were turnovers and missed free throws. Baxter hit only 3-of-13 from the foul line and made 4-of-18 in the game.
“We had a decent lead but we left a lot of points out there,” Padget said. “Our ball movement and shot selection during the winning streak has been good. That’s what we focused on at halftime tonight. I didn’t think we were good in those areas in the first half.”
The Bolts held a 23-0 advantage in the third quarter. Bruntz caught fire, scoring 11 of her 17 points in the quarter. Eslinger, who battled foul trouble all game, scored all six of her points in the third senior Holly Jessen also buried a 3-pointer.
Baxter kicked on the 35-point continuous clock in the third quarter and outscored the Saints 15-2 in the fourth. In the final frame, Samson scored three buckets inside, Pierce made two layups, Vansice scored on a drive and Bruntz buried another trey.
“The winning streak couldn’t have come at a better time. The girls are playing with confidence right now,” Padget said.
Vansice scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and swiped two steals, Samson had eight points and seven rebounds and Eslinger tallied six points and five boards before fouling out in the third quarter.
Pierce scored six points, Ziesman had five points and five rebounds and Sophie Meyer scored five points and grabbed four boards. Jessen collected four boards, four steals and three assists.
The Bolts were 27-of-51 from the floor and 6-of-13 from 3-point range. They had 19 steals and held the Saints to 20 points below their season average.
Baxter hosts Grand View Christian (4-5) at 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 9 in Baxter. The Bolts play Collins-Maxwell (7-2) at 6 p.m. on Jan. 10 in Baxter.