DUNLAP – When it comes to superstitions in sports, Alleman girls' basketball coach Jay Hatch is all over them.|
Mention that a pitcher for his team has a no-hitter going late in a baseball game and he'd probably give you an evil glare.
The same, apparently, holds true for hoops when it comes to pitching blanks.
The No. 2-seeded Pioneers came up with a third-quarter shutout against No. 3 seed and host Dunlap, which proved crucial in Alleman's 47-39 Class 3A Dunlap Regional semifinal on Tuesday night.
"I realized it with about 50 seconds left in the quarter and was just hoping that no one would mention it. It's kind of like a no-hitter in baseball; you just don't talk about it," said Hatch. "Finally, when I heard someone say something about it, sure enough, they scored right after that" early in the fourth quarter.
Hatch's hearing couldn't have been good enough to hear the bench for Dunlap (14-14), but the frustration of 0-for-15 shooting in the frame was rumbling there.
"Did we get shut out that quarter?" the Eagles assistant asked the official scorer. "Good gracious."
The no-pointer couldn't have come at a more key time for the 16-14 Pioneers. Alleman was quite sluggish in the first half, trailing on the scoreboard 26-14 and getting dominated on the boards, 21-11.
"Momentum is a good thing when it's on your side," said Hatch.
Getting only 15 shot attempts in the first half, the Pioneers got a dozen in the third quarter. Also key in the resurgence was getting to the free-throw line, hitting 6-of-8, and hitting the boards, outrebounding the Eagles 14-5. They finished the game with a 32-29 rebounding advantage.
"Halftime talks are overrated," said Hatch. "We made a couple of adjustments there, and the press really helped us. We couldn't press in the first half because we couldn't get any shots. Then we had to make them miss shots to get after the rebounds."
There were several other keys for Alleman, which will face Geneseo in the regional championship game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday back at Dunlap. The Pioneer guards crashed the boards hard in the second half, with Anna Wetherell getting six and Isabelle Anderson and Anne Bohnert with five each.
Plus, Alleman got valuable contributions from its bench, with Dunlap seemingly tiring while the Pioneers substituted often.
"All five off our bench – Karli Anderson, Maddie McGuire (six points), Daria Guzzo (a block), Billie Franks and Zoe Kelso (six rebounds) – all had good minutes for us," said the Alleman coach.
The Pioneers were led in scoring by Erin Morrisey with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
As for facing the upset-minded, No. 4-seeded Leafs, Hatch says he couldn't yet get caught up in any of that.
"When you haven't won a regional game in two years," Hatch said, "you are concerned more about winning this game."