If there is another gear, the Northwestern girls have found it.
The sixth-ranked Trojans dismantled eighth-ranked JL Mann in the second round of the girls 4A state basketball playoffs Friday, winning 67-44 in a game which on paper looked like a good matchup.
So much for that.
The Trojans had three players in double figures and entered the fourth quarter with a 29-point lead, at 53-24. They will now take on the Wade Hampton in the third round at home at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Northwestern was led by all-state player Mariah McCoy, a senior who had 16 points, while junior Ieshia Love and senior Natalie Henderson each had 13.
Already holding a comfortable 27-14 lead at the half, the Trojans found that extra gear in the second half and open the third quarter on a 12-0 run to push their lead to 39-14 before a JL Mann time out.
“The last two days we have been locked in,” said Northwestern coach John Bramlett. “They did exactly as we asked them to do. I feel good at how the girls are playing now. They are playing hard.”
The Trojans came out of the time out and drained one of their seven 3-pointers. Northwestern outscored JL Mann 26-10 in the third quarter.
Northwestern shot exactly 50 percent for the game and shot 65 percent from the field in the third quarter, when Love scored eight of her 13 points – hitting half of her six shots, including two 3-pointers.
Henderson stepped up in the fourth quarter for the Trojans as she dropped in eight of her 13 in the final quarter, despite JL Mann outscoring Northwestern 20-14 in the quarter.
McCoy was dialed in early and scored 11 of her 16 points in the first half.
Northwestern came out with a full-court press to open the game and the Patriots had four straight turnovers as the Trojans never trailed in the game.
JL Mann turned the ball over 14 times in the first half – nine of those came in the opening quarter. After that, Northwestern led 15-6.
The Patriots played better in the second quarter and was able to keep the game close by converting all four free-throw attempts.
The second quarter started slow for both teams, but with JL Mann switching to a full-court press, Northwestern struggled to some extent turning the ball over an uncharacteristically six times in the period.
Once the Trojans found a way to break the press, they looked like a well-oiled machine moving the ball up the court and beating the press the majority of the time.
Because of the slow start in the second quarter, Northwestern made just 11 field goal attempts, but hit just under half of them. That allowed them to take a 13-point lead into the half, before opening the flood gates in the second half.
JL Mann 44
JL Mann – Shayla Bennett 18, Alyson Brown 13, Rochelle Brophy 6, Jessica Garlington 3, Catherine Landers 2, Shanafried Gary 2. Northwestern – Mariah McCoy 16, Ieshia Love 13, Natalie Henderson 13, London Minor 9, Paige Samuelson 6, Aubriana Thompson 6, Shashay Alexander 4.
3-pointers – JL Mann 4 (Brown 4), Northwestern 7 (Love 3, Minor 3, McCoy 1). Team fouls: JL Mann 15, Northwestern 17. Fouled out – Rochelle Brophy (JLM).
Records: JL Mann 21-7, Northwestern 21-2.