A slow start and a slow finish may have been a problem on most nights for Bryan, but a dominating performance in the middle quarters more than made up for it.

After a sluggish opening period for both teams, the Lady Vikings found their offensive groove and turned in a great defensive effort in the second quarter to cruise to a 42-27 victory over Conroe Oak Ridge on Tuesday at Viking Gym in District 14-5A girls basketball.

Faced with a 9-7 deficit to start the second period, junior guard Lorenzia Nowlin opened the quarter by driving to the basket for a lay up and a foul. Nowlin converted the three-point play to give the Lady Vikings (13-9, 5-3) a 10-9 lead and spark a 15-0 run that lasted almost the entire second period. An 18-2 advantage in the quarter gave Bryan a solid 25-11 halftime lead.

Bryan played tight defense and made it difficult for Oak Ridge (12-15, 2-7) to find open shots by closing well on its shooters. The Lady War Eagles did not make a field goal in the entire second quarter and were not able to score until 34 seconds before halftime on two free throws.

“We wanted to make sure to not give up easy 3-point shots and have good transition defense because [Oak Ridge] likes to shoot transition 3s,” said Bryan head coach Beth Jesurun. “For the most part, I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

Oak Ridge shot an excellent 44 percent from 3, but the Lady Vikings limited 3-point opportunities for the Lady War Eagles and made them work for open shots, holding them to only nine attempts from beyond the arc.

A balanced offense and more stingy defense helped the Lady Vikings extend their lead in the third quarter.

After an Oak Ridge 3-pointer to start the second half, senior guard Audrey Malone answered with a 3 of her own as the Lady Vikings went on an 8-0 run, including three field goals from different players, capped by a fast-break layup by senior Alondriah Brown. Bryan closed the period on a 14-3 run and extended its lead to 39-17 heading into the fourth.

It looked like a comeback could be in the works as the Lady War Eagles opened the fourth quarter with a quick 10-0 run that was helped by seven straight Bryan turnovers.

“We had to focus and start setting up our offense and run some time off the clock [in the fourth quarter],” said Jesurun. “We didn’t do a good job handling the ball or defending during that time, so we had to get focused.”

The Oak Ridge run cut the Bryan lead to 39-27 with about 4 minutes left in the game, but following a timeout, the Lady Vikings slowed the pace down and did not allow Oak Ridge to score again.

The Lady Vikings were balanced on offense with five players scoring six or more points. Senior forward Alex Sims led Bryan with nine points and secured five rebounds, including three offensive boards.

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