Brock Netter, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — Zane Trace will openly admit that it needs to learn how to slow down instead of going a million miles per hour.
The Pioneers committed over 20 turnovers on Friday. But on the other hand, it forced 25 New Hope turnovers to somewhat balance things out.
The difference maker ultimately was that the Pioneers were the deeper team, playing nine players to New Hope’s six as they started the season on a high note with a 49-37 victory.
“One thing about us is we played hard. It may be 100 miles an hour, but we played hard,” Zane Trace coach Todd O’Dell said. “We got out to a big lead in the third quarter and made the adjustments we needed to. Now, we just have to learn how to finish strong and not give ourselves a little scare when we’re up 17 points.”
It also marked the first season-opening victory for Zane Trace since 2013.
“I couldn’t be happier not only just to have a senior season, but to start it off with a win,” Zane Trace’s Lauren Lane said. “It’s such an awesome feeling and I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”
Zane Trace (1-0) was in control for the majority of the game, sans a couple minutes in the second quarter. It jumped out to an 8-3 lead following a rebound and putback from Brianna Fetters.
New Hope (0-1) cut the lead to 13-12 to end the first quarter before taking a 14-13 lead in the second after a bucket from Maren McCallister. It stayed in the lead until Gracey McCullough hit a baseline runner to put the Pioneers back ahead at 19-18.
Then Lane scored a runner, followed by a pair of free throws to lead a half-ending 8-0 run, putting the Pioneers ahead 25-18.
“That run at the end gave us a lot of confidence,” O’Dell said. ‘We weren’t playing our best, but to go into halftime with some momentum was huge. Our depth was starting to wear on New Hope a little bit and we just stayed on them.”
McCullough hit another shot to open the third, then Lane buried a triple before New Hope called timeout as the Pioneers opened a 30-20 lead.
McCullough later buried points eight and nine for herself followed by another triple, this one from Alexis Guffey, as the lead ballooned to 37-22 at the end of the third.
However, Zane Trace wasn’t out of the woods just yet as New Hope had one final rally left. Behind McCallister, who finished with a game-high 20 points, a 39-22 lead was cut to 42-35 with less than four minutes left.
Although momentum seemed to be shifting, Emily Allen stepped in and got a pair of buckets, putting her in double-digit scoring figures and ultimately calming down the Pioneers to seal the deal on a victory.
On top of her team-high 10 points, she brought down a monstrous 17 rebounds.
“It’s all about keeping my energy up and getting those extra possessions for us,” Allen said. “We came out really strong, especially defensively but we have to slow down. We tend to rush ourselves too much, and it’s something we’ll continue working on. Catch our breath, run our plays and just play basketball.”
After Allen’s double-double, Lane and McCullough each finished with nine points while Guffey added seven points.
Zane Trace returns to action on Dec. 3 at Paint Valley.