Despite the final score, the Comets are 2-0 this season. "We wanted to accomplish two goals in this game," noted Kendra Grothmann, the Lady Comets' new coach. "It was one of the better defensive starts I've seen," Grothmann said, speaking to the goals she and Boys' Coach Gregg Preston put before the Lady Comets in a pre-game meeting at Hillcrest. The Comets held an impressive Henning Hornets team to 6 points in the first five minutes of the game. Losing steam in the preceding minutes, The Lady Comets accomplished 2 difficult goals in falling 57-34 to the Hornets.
The Comets set to work with their new coach and a new scheme this year. Grothmann is working closely with Comet Boys' head coach Gregg Preston in developing a comprehensive game plan for the Lady Comets. In a pregame meeting with Preston, Grothmann noted that her team set a number of lofty goals. Namely, the Lady Comets wanted to hold Hornet standout Paige Wallevand under 10 points and keep Henning from reaching 60 in the game.
The Lady Comets left the locker-room to start their 2015-16 season with a steely look on their faces. From tip-off it was clear the Comets' simple goals were on their mind. Through the five-minute mark the Comets ran stride for stride with Henning. A 2 point margin separated Henning from Hillcrest, as the game wore beyond the five minute mark Henning's scoreboard posted a meager 6 points for the home team.
As the game progressed the Comets tired. Looking down the bench, Grothmann didn't have the numbers nor height to compete with Henning. Nearly 4 of Henning's 5 starters stand taller than 5'11". Hillcrest has two starters who match that height. Abigail Christensen played all but a handful of minutes in the game, matching-up with Wallevand for much of the night, forcing Henning to turn to other scorers. Senior Emma Royce hustled throughout the game, putting in quality time in helping Hillcrest dominate in rebounds.
Despite a short bench, Hillcrest kept Henning in check. Out playing Henning on the boards, Hillcrest walked-off the court with over 20 stops on defense due to solid boxing out by Royce and Christenson. The downfall for the Comets was keeping the ball on the offensive side, where they were outplayed in time of possession. For every minute Hillcrest handled the ball on offense, they spent nearly two-minutes on defense. Their hustle and hard work showed on the offensive side, where fatigue forced bad passes and miscues dribbling after a quality defensive stand.
With 5 minutes left in the second half head coach Grothmann called a time out. The beleaguered team flopped on the bench and Grothmann knelt to see their eyes. The Comets gazed, faces red from hard work. Sweat dripped from their noses as they gazed quickly to the clock before Grothmann asked a simple question. "I said, 'are you going to be that team?'" Grothmann said, recalling the timeout. She outlined that the girls wanted to hold Henning under 60.
A spark lit in the eyes of the Comet guards. Their quick feet was forcing bad passes by Henning. Royce worked in the post to deflect a handful of passes throughout the game. They looked to Christenson and a surge came from the bench as the Lady Comets rose to huddle one last time before the final buzzer.
The preceding minutes proved the pep-talk powerful. The Lady Comets shook hands and walked into their locker room with two wins in their column, despite the loss. They played a great five minutes after the initial tip-off, and they outworked their opponent in the final five minutes before the buzzer. Wallevand didn't score double-digits and Henning didn't have 60 points on their home scoreboard. For Grothmann and her Comets, the two wins is better than taking home the game's win, at least at this point in the season. They have a 2-0 record in accomplishing their goals, setting to work Wednesday for Thursday's game in Verndale.