Cardinal used a fourth quarter rally to pull out a 41-34 win at Bristol in Friday’s season opener for both teams.
The Huskies, who led 10-3 after the first quarter and 19-14 at halftime, struggled to score in the third quarter but dominated the final eight minutes of play.
“I’m thankful for a game like that,” said Cardinal coach Luke Kruse. “Not everything went our way. We were up 10-3 in the first quarter and thought we might be able to cruise a little bit, but that wasn’t meant to be. We were talking a lot in the preseason about how we respond when we come up to adversity and the girls have some great examples of that now.”
Bristol bounced back from the slow start by winning the second quarter, 11-9, and the third, 13-4, but the Huskies didn’t flinch.
Instead, they rallied around junior Camille Cummins, who finished with a team-high 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“That’s one of her goals and one of the things we set for her is she needs to be a double-double machine for us,” Kruse said. “For her to do that in the first game is huge.”
Cummins scored six points in a two-minute stretch early in the fourth to regain the lead.
“That was huge for her to recognize that we were struggling to put the ball in the hoop and it was her time to be aggressive,” Kruse said. “She picked the right spot to be aggressive. She’s usually very unselfish but she knew what she needed to do for the team to get us the lead and she did it.”
In the past, Cardinal didn’t respond well to adversity.
The fourth quarter proved that the 2017-2018 Huskies have a different mentality.
“We were really tested in a lot of ways,” Kruse said. “Bristol as an extremely physical and hard-working team. They full-court man-to-man pressed us for 32 minutes. It was constant pressure, constant physicality. We took some bumps and bruises but I was really proud of the way in the fourth quarter, despite a couple girls getting knocked over they got right back up and showed a lot of heart and were able to have a really nice fourth quarter.”
Ashely Gubanyar, who finished with eight points and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line, and Hanna Traggiai, who closed out the game with 10 points and four steals, both provided examples of mental toughness late in the game.
“Ashley got hip-checked into the bleachers, pretty ruthlessly, and then she went and hit the front end of the one-and-one and then hit the second shot and that put us in good position to close out the game,” Kruse said. “Hanna made a turnover but then she went back and stole the ball and drove full court and hit a big shot to put us ahead in the fourth quarter. It’s those little things where they could have shied away from the contact and complained but instead they went and made big plays and that was the difference down the stretch.”
Brittni Lawrence scored six points and pulled down five rebounds for the Huskies.
She also recorded five of Cardinal’s six blocks in the game.
“She was big for us,” Kruse said. “She is obviously a good-sized player and that’s kind of intimidating for the other team. She has gotten so much more intelligent about the way she defends down low, putting her hands straight up and not fouling. That was huge for us. Her rebounding and shot-blocking was very tough for the other team to be successful in the paint. She really has grown a lot from her sophomore to her junior year and she had a great debut as a varsity starter.”