The Hazen High School girls basketball so far this season has been filled with inconsistencies. Winning one game and losing the next is never an ideal scenario.
The Highlanders are hoping they will find some consistency after a big non-league win. Hazen handled the Auburn Mountainview Lions with ease on Dec. 19 with a 57-20 win on the road.
“We played really well on the defensive end and got out to an early lead,” Head Coach Shannon Rance said.
Hazen has had a tough go of things results-wise this season, losing three of their five games by less than eight points. Winning by 37 was a feeling the Highlanders hadn’t felt since game one of the season.
“It felt great. These league games have (created) a lot of pressure on our team. Having a game like this, being able to play with each other was just chill,” Mia McCarthy said.
Hazen started out slow, going two minutes without a made basket. But Mia McCarthy got the Highlanders going — and going quickly. She scored 12 of Hazen’s 22 points, settling the Highlanders down in a ruckus, chirpy environment.
“I didn’t want us playing down to their level because I know our potential as a team. I just wanted to give ourselves an opportunity,” McCarthy said.
Auburn Mountainview players chanting “over-rated” at Dakota Nap and Co. created an environment that Hazen hadn’t been used to. But Rance’s girls were able to navigate the chirping and got down to business — that’s what you want as a coach.
“I was very proud of them because it’s easy to take in what everybody is saying, and kind of self-implode. So, the way they were able to stick together as a team and pick each other up to keep everybody going was awesome for our team,” Rance said.
McCarthy’s 12 points in the first quarter tied the Lions entire total in the first half. She capped off her night with 22 points in just three quarters. Along with Dakota Nap, McCarthy sat the entirety of the fourth quarter.
“At the beginning of the year, I felt like I had to play a big role because of players we lost. So I felt like I needed to step up to lead our team,” McCarthy said.
Her coach also commented on her leadership this season.
“She’s doing a great job. We had a chat about defense, and she definitely picked up the pressure on defense,” Rance said.
Hazen is off until after Christmas and picks up on Dec. 27 against Meadowdale at home. The Mavericks are 7-1 and undefeated in league play, a tall task for the Highlanders.
Coach Rance went the X’s and O’s route for Hazen to play their best basketball.
“We just have to keep moving the ball. Going inside and out, when we move the ball, we get lots of great looks at the basket. When we get the ball inside, we have a lot of great finishes too,” Rance said.
Junior Makenna Garrett can be that player for Hazen. Against the Lions, she had 15 points.