WAUPUN — They were good in the first half and that was reason to be happy.
But members of Waupun’s prep girls basketball team got a reminder at halftime that even with a 16-point cushion over Columbus, there was still work to be done.
“Our coach just told us to keep the energy up and we would be fine,” Waupun senior post Syd Flier said, “and I think we did that.”
She thinks? What’s to think about? The Warriors opened the second half on a 9-0 run and led by as many as 28 a short time later.
“Then yeah, we listened to him, I guess,” Flier added when told of that stat.
In fact, the host Warriors were dominant for nearly the entire contest and it resulted in a 51-37 win over the Cardinals in a non-conference game Tuesday night.
And Waupun (3-1) has solid efforts on both ends of the floor to thank for the convincing win over Columbus (0-3).
“When you look at the first 30 minutes, the ball was moving side to side,” Waupun head coach Tim Aalsma said of the key on the offensive end. “Our girls are starting to understand the concept of moving hard without the ball. … And the more we can have those kind of consistent side-to-side ball movements, we’re going to get some good looks inside.”
Cardinals head coach Tim Dworak agreed.
“They move the ball very, very well on offense. They cut very hard, and if you’re out of position, they’re going to take advantage of it,” he said. "We got hit on some screens and we didn’t jump to the ball like we want to, and they got some open looks."
Many of those good looks went to Flier, who scored 13 of her game-high 17 points after halftime to lead the Warriors to that 28-point lead when she made it 50-22 on basket inside with 7 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.
Waupun made it hard on Ashley Henry in the first half, limiting the Cardinals’ 6-foot-1 post to four points in the first 18 minutes as she had to sit for a good chunk of time because of foul trouble.
She finished with a team-best 11 points, but she had to work for all she got and was only 2-of-8 from the field.
The Warriors credit their new-look man-to-man defense for that.
“Fronting the post was a big thing for us,” said Flier, who in years past was the anchor of Waupun’s staple 2-3 zone.
"If we could front her and make her post touches difficult, and make the other kids beat us, that’s what we kind of centered on — take her out of the game,” Aalsma added. “I thought collectively as a whole, our weak-side help was really great. They’re starting to buy into this man-to-man system.”
Still, for as much of an uphill battle as it was for the Cardinals in this one, their effort never wavered — and because of it, they were able to save some face on the final scoreboard, only losing by 14 after facing a deficit twice as large.
“The grit and the fight I saw in them, it’s something to build off of,” Dworak said. “But we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”