Nersten Earns First Coaching Win as Lavin Bolsters Comets with 22
Hanna Lavin came off a screen in the opening minutes after her team broke the full-court press. Confidence is marking the Comets under their new head coach Zach Nersten. When Lavin squared her shoulders she cast a three pointer that easily sailed through the net, starting the Comet scoring and setting a tone for hot shooting for the Comets in their 59-47 win.
Despite turning the ball over five times in the first few minutes, Hillcrest continued their aggressive pace. After a set of poor series that saw the Comets down five points in the early minutes, Lavin and Abby Christenson began working the corners to create offense in the opening minutes.
Nersten's style was evident early as Hillcrest started subbing after four minutes ticked off the clock. Through most of the season Hillcrest has played seven players from the bench. Nersten's first set of subbing involved freshman Anna Rasmussen as Nersten pulled his seniors in on the bench to redirect their play in building confidence. It was evident the strategy was working as the Lady Comets started hitting long shots and attacked the backboard, taking a commanding lead they would hang on to through halftime at the 10 minute mark.
When the Comets came out of the locker room at the half the scoreboard boasted their first-half work, reading 27-23 Comets. Nersten kept the game plan simple out of the locker room. A man-to-man defense put the Comets in position for good rebound opportunities. In transitioning to the offensive side the Lady Comets continued to cast long shots with Battle Lake struggling to come over screens. When Lavin wasn't shooting from outside she was passing to Olivia Foss. If the Comets were off the mark Christenson was in the air working to pull down the rebound.
With seven minutes left in the game the Comets were still pushing the ball up the court. Leading the Battlers 55-35, Coach Nersten huddled his girls whose energy level was surprisingly peaking. The Comet starters haven't had a game where they weren't sucking wind at this point in the game. Nersten's steady hand in substitutions near the half and throughout the opening minutes of the 2nd half gave his team steam to finish strong. Shots were more on point and rebounds were falling into the hands of the hungry Comets who had three players in double-digits three-quarters of the way through the game.
In the waning minutes of the game the Lady Comets struggled with ball control. Excitement of a 20 point lead caused some careless passing as the Lady Comets were simply looking to finish the game strong. Their 15 turnovers in the first half were matched at four when the Comets were playing their best basketball with four minutes left in the second half, finishing the game with double-digit turnovers in the final frame.
The Battlers posted 20 points from the free throw line before the final buzzer sounded, marking the Comets' first win in a 59-47 score. The Lady Comets huddled with Battler players at midcourt to close the evening in prayer.
Lavin finished with 22 points, Olivia Foss 14, and Abby Christenson 10. Anna Newman contributed a pair of three-pointers to go with her seven rebounds that bolstered a series of Comet second chances.
The Lady Comets are 1-0 under new coach Zach Nersten, 1-7 on the season. Nersten's squad will host Rothsay Friday at 7:15pm at the Student Activities Center.