NEW SHARON — Jerry Hulsing had a very animated discussion with his Lynnville-Sully girls’ basketball team during halftime of its Class 1A Region 6 quarterfinal matchup with North Mahaska on Tuesday night.
According to Hulsing, his Class 1A No. 14 Hawks had played its worst half of basketball of the season. They might have needed some extra motivation.
Whatever Hulsing said at intermission worked for a while, but the hole L-S dug itself into was too much to overcome during a 55-41 road loss.
“We weren’t very aggressive and we just didn’t execute,” Hulsing said. “We didn’t rebound the basketball at all. That killed us all night long.”
The Hawks fell behind 17-6 after the first quarter and 28-15 at halftime but rallied to get within three early in the fourth. But North Mahaska (15-3) pulled away at the free-throw line.
The Warhawks hit 15 of their 21 made freebies in the final frame. North Mahaska outscored the Hawks 20-11 in the fourth.
“They responded. They are great kids and I knew they were going to battle,” Hulsing said of the halftime discussion. “We had some opportunities that we missed. We didn’t score in the fourth and they made their free throws.”
A bright spot for the Hawks (17-4) came from the bench. Krystal Van Dyke, who was moved to the bench after returning from injury, had 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks to lead L-S. Meleisha Vos also had 10 points and four rebounds off the pine.
The Hawks fell behind 6-0 to start the game but closed the gap to 6-4 after Van Dyke, Vos and Megan Van Zante scored all four points from the line.
North Mahaska countered the Hawks’ mini-run with an 11-2 spurt that gave the hosts the lead for good. It outscored L-S 11-9 in the second.
“I think it was one of our worst halves of basketball this season,” Hulsing said. “The message at halftime was we can’t be passive. We needed to make things happen.
“It wasn’t a magical speech. We just had to execute better. We were much better in the second half but just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
Korinne Jansen had back-to-back buckets inside the lane to open the second half. Van Dyke also scored inside and Caitlin Alberts made 3-of-4 from the line to close the margin to 10.
Vos then went to work inside, scoring four in a row to get her team within seven. An Alberts layup made it 35-30 after three.
The deficit was 35-32 early in the fourth after Vos opened the frame with two free throws.
The Hawks couldn’t get any closer than that though as North Mahaska closed the game on a 20-9 run.
“Our word going into the game was execution and tonight we didn’t execute like we needed to, especially in the first half,” Hulsing said. “The girls showed a lot of heart and character in making a run in the second half. We just couldn’t string a couple more stops and scores together to get over the hump.”
The Hawks’ 41 points came on 34 percent shooting and they were 0-of-9 from 3-point range and 11-of-21 from the line. They also committed 20 turnovers.
Lynnville-Sully’s top two leading scorers, Cally Gibbs and Reagan McFarland, were held to a combined two points.
But the Hawks’ also held North Mahaska’s best player, Layla Hargis, to six points and seven rebounds. Hargis is averaging 19 points and 13 rebounds this season but she got into foul trouble against L-S.
“Some of it was we wanted to get the ball inside to get them in foul trouble,” Hulsing said. “They didn’t give us much from outside. I don’t care who scores. I don’t care if it’s the water girl who scores as long as we score.”
Alberts finished with eight points and three rebounds, Jansen tallied four points and four boards and McFarland chipped in four rebounds and three steals. Van Zante grabbed four rebounds.
For North Mahaska, Addie Schilling had 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Breanna Fogle put in 13 points and Kaitlyn Van Donselaar scored 12 points.
The Warhawks shot 33 percent from the floor, hit 21-of-34 from the line and committed 17 turnovers. The home team scored 13 points off the 20 L-S miscues.
Notes: L-S came into the game winners of 10 of its previous 11 games. … The Hawks lost four games this season, two against North Mahaska and two against seventh-ranked Montezuma. … Hulsing and assistant coach Jeff Corbett lose six seniors to graduation — Van Dyke, Vos, Alberts, Jansen, Gibbs and Van Zante. “That’s always the hardest part of a season ending,” Hulsing said. “I appreciate everything they have done for our program and admire their growth as a ballplayer but more importantly as a person. We will miss them. I cannot thank them enough for all their hard work.”