HOWELL — The nonconference portion of a basketball schedule is all about learning and learning to adjust.
The Howell girls basketball team did exactly that while getting stellar performances from its top players as the HIghlanders rolled past Bath, 60-30, at Howell High School on Friday night.
The visiting Bees (1-1) ran up and down the floor with the Highlanders (2-0) from start to finish.
But, like a lot of teams have in the past year or so, they let Lexie Miller get comfortable from the outside at the onset. She had 12 points in the first quarter, including four 3-pointers.
“There were a lot of kick-outs,” she said after finishing with 20 points, “and I had open shots in the zone, so I took those shots and they went in, which was nice.”
In the second half, Leah Weslock took over the scoring duties, hitting for 11 of her 16 points after the intermission.
Paige Johnson, meanwhile, had just five points but her defense so unnerved the Bees that is contributed to a poor shooting night, especially on lay-ups.
“I’ll tell you that Paige Johnson is one of the smartest people out there,” Howell coach Tim Olszewski said. “She baits people into things. She’s that person who’s always thinking three passes ahead. It’s so much fun to watch.”
Johnson, a guard, also had a pair of perfectly timed blocks for the Highlanders.
The first half was more of an adventure for the Highlanders, who had to adjust to Bath’s pace of play.
“our defense did a lot better in transition (in the second half),” Miller said. “They had 10 points in the first half when we weren’t getting back fast enough (on defense)(. But we adjusted, and that’s what helped us pull through.”
Adjusted is a euphemism. The Highlanders, who led 30-20 at the half, shut the Bees down in the third quarter with a 16-2 spurt that put the game effectively out of reach.
The Highlanders spread out the scoring a little bit and their defense did the rest, holding Bath to a single basket and never looking back.
“In the first half, they were going to come out with a whole lot of energy, and they did,” Olszewski said of the Bees. “They caused us to do things that were uncharacteristic, But we pulled together in the second half.”
Both teams put in their reserves with about two minutes left and the game long decided. But, afterward, Olszewski was already looking ahead.
“We have a lot of great things going on, ” he said. “But you know what? We can get better. There are things we didn’t do as well as I’d like us to do, so on Sunday we’re going to definitely focus on those things (at practice).”