True to form, Stratford Secondary Schools’ senior girls’ basketball team started slowly before a fast finish resulted in a 41-17 win over the Listowel Lightning in the Huron-Perth quarter-final Wednesday afternoon.
But it’s a trend that will have to change if the amalgamated school wants to get past F.E. Madill in Monday’s semifinal. Stratford lost by three to the Mustangs in the regular season, and the difference was a slow start from which the combination of Northwestern and Central couldn’t recover.
“When we played them last time it was like minutes and minutes went by and neither team scored,” Stratford head coach Rob James said. “We gotta score.”
Points were hard to come by in the first half against Listowel, as third-seed Stratford led 14-3 at the half.
“We were really slow offensively, and then eventually that got going,” James said, “but the defence stopped them from scoring and enabled us to get going.”
Stratford played man defence for a full game for the first time all season and held Listowel to five points through the first three quarters.
Offensively, Morgan Goffar led the way with 16 points. The Grade 11 student missed most of practice this week with an illness.
“You could tell at the beginning she didn’t have the strength, but eventually she got going,” James said.
Goffar had four points at the half before heating up with the rest of the team.
“I could have done better and shot a little bit more,” she said. “My shots were off. I was proud of my defence, got two charges.”
Goffar dominated in the fourth quarter, with eight of her points coming in the final eight minutes.
“I decided to drive it instead, took it to the left hand more than the right,” she said. “They picked up on that in the first quarter and I got buckets from there.
“I need to take my time (shooting). I think I was throwing it up and I wasn’t really working on my form. I was just trying to get the shot in.”
Paige Goffar added 10 points for Stratford, and Clara Roth had seven.
For Listowel, Booke Merkley had a team-high eight points.
Lightning head coach Aaron Gates was pleased with the way his team played against Stratford after allowing 47 points against the same school Oct. 21.
“As opposed to letting them score, they had to work to score, so that’s a bit of a positive moving forward,” he said. “Defensively it was a big jump. We don’t have many seniors on the team, and we had a couple juniors we had to bring up, so it was a bit of an adjustment for them, and seeing the type of athleticism required to compete at this level, and then have to adjust based on that.”
Listowel went 4-5 in the regular season and should have most of its team back next season.
“We’re already talking about a few things, trying to figure out what we need to do and how we can get started next year,” Gates said.
In other senior girls’ playoff games, South Huron beat Goderich 42-26 and Madill edged Mitchell 44-42.
In the junior girls’ quarter-finals, St. Mike’s knocked off Goderich 29-18 on the road, St. Anne’s eliminated Listowel 33-20, and Stratford beat Central Huron 33-15.