FAIRFIELD — Anyone who has watched even a moderate amount of basketball has seen it. The scoring run is as much a part of basketball as the ball itself. If your team is on the scoring run, it’s glorious. Nothing can go wrong. If your team is on the opposite end of a scoring run, it induces panic. Nothing can go right.
In Friday night’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference girls basketball game between Skowhegan and Lawrence, each team had two runs of at least nine points. It was Lawrence that put together the longest, a 12-0 outburst in the fourth quarter. That Bulldog run was the difference in the game, a 37-31 Lawrence victory.
“When we’re trying to break their run apart, we’re thinking what can we make for changes on defense? What are we doing wrong? What could we possibly pull out that we haven’t pulled out?” Lawrence coach Greg Chesley said. “When we’re the one making the run, we’re trying not to change anything that we’re doing. Let it roll. A couple times when I was a younger coach, I might even make a mistake and call a timeout in that situation. But we’re not stopping the game. We’re going to keep it coming.”
Chesley’s Bulldogs withstood Skowhegan runs of 10 and 11 points to pull out the win. The RiverHawks opened the game on a 10-0 run, with Emily Dunbar hitting a pair of 3-pointers to give it an extra kick. After Lawrence began the second quarter with a 9-0 run to take an 18-17 lead, Skowhegan closed the half with a 7-0 run, then opened the third quarter with four more straight points to push its lead back to 10, 28-18. The wraparound run was dangerous because the Bulldogs hoped the half would effectively pull the emergency break on Skowhegan’s momentum. When it didn’t, the game was perilously close to getting out of Lawrence’s control.
“They’re really frustrating, because it’s hard to get back once it happens. We had to make sure we executed and put a stop to it,” Lawrence Hope Bouchard, who scored 11 points to lead the Bulldogs, said.
How important are scoring runs? Well, 68 percent of Skowhegan’s scoring output came on those two runs. Seventy-six percent of Lawrence’s offense came on three runs: the 9-0 spurt in the second quarter, a 7-0 rally late in the third, and the 12-0 run that accounted for all the scoring in the fourth quarter.
“We really had to pull it together at the end there because we knew their team, they could come back at any time. They go on runs, we had to watch out for that,” Bouchard said.
Extending a scoring run requires focus and strong play at both ends of the court, as well as a little luck. While Lawrence was reeling off nine straight points in the second quarter, Skowhegan was getting good shots that popped out of the net as if thrown back by an invisible hand. When Skowhegan went on its’ 11-0 run in the second and third quarters, the Bulldogs couldn’t buy a bucket.
“We got, I think, the mismatches we were looking for. They’re a good physical team. They play good defense and pushed us further off the block than we’re comfortable with, and we just couldn’t hit those. When we finally did, that swung it and we got the run,” Chesley said.
Skowhegan had good shots fail to fall in the fourth, and the RiverHawks also missed a pair of free throws that would’ve stopped Lawrence’s run at 10 points with just over two and a half minutes to play.
The run can be exhilarating or maddening. It can bring a smile or a frown. It all depends on your perspective. From Lawrence’s point of view, their fourth quarter run was a thing of beauty, ended only by the final buzzer.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242