It was hard to tell judging by Tuesday's 54-24 final score in a win at Norwalk. However, the Crimson Flashes led just 17-13 with two minutes left in the first half of the non-league game at Norwalk High School.
But Willard (4-0) reeled off a 31-0 scoring run over a 10-plus minute span to take complete control.
In the first quarter, the Flashes had six turnovers in the first three minutes — and didn't score until the 2:40 mark.
"Whatever the reason, getting off to a good start hasn't been our thing this year," Willard coach Jon Dawson said. "I don't know if it's kids lacking focus or whatever, but we were sloppy from the beginning. It's just irritating when you know what the kids are able to do and you expect that from them for all the time.
"I've never coached the team that played the perfect game, but we got things going and got the momentum going," he added.
Haylie Hamons and Lydia Wiers scored the final four points of the first half to put the Crimson Flashes up 21-13.
In the third quarter, it was all Willard.
Cassidy Crawford converted a three-point play off of a turnover just nine seconds into the half. Chloe Wiers then nailed a 3-pointer just 30 seconds later, and the Flashes were off and running with a 27-13 lead. Crawford, Becca Slone, Mckenna Stephens and Presley Feltner each added baskets to outscore the Truckers (0-3) by a 23-0 margin in the third to go ahead 44-13.
"We kind of changed it up at halftime and were able to jump on them in the third quarter and really get the energy level going a bit," Dawson said. "We were able to get some kids involved. That was key to us getting going."
Crawford scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 48-13. Norwalk snapped 10:47 scoreless drought when Janel Jubak scored with 7:14 left in the game.
"They went man-to-man pressure and trapped out of it a little bit," Norwalk coach Brock Manlet said of Willard's third quarter pressure. "We're just young and inexperienced ... we're dribbling the ball up the sideline and then picking it up in the trap zone and a player like Lydia Wiers or Cassidy Crawford is on top of you.
"It makes it hard to get it out of there," he added. "And once they got some momentum it was hard to stop. I just thought we panicked a little bit when they went on that run."
Crawford finished with 18 points and nine rebounds for Willard. Stephens added 12 points and four rebounds.
"At times we've shown how good we can be, but we definitely have a lot of things to clean up," Dawson said. "We just have to keep coaching and keep that energy level where it needs to be. I think it all starts with our defense.
"We're not always going to shoot the ball well, but our defense was pretty good," he added. "Even at the start when we struggled to score, we held them to 13 points in the half. Our defense eventually led to our offense."
For Norwalk, Lindsey Koenig had seven points — which included a 3-pointer deep beyond the volleyball line at the first quarter buzzer. She added three rebounds and three steals.
Paige Mauer had six points and four rebounds for the Truckers, while Mascie Horner had five points and three steals.
"We told the kids the end result wasn't what we wanted, but we'll choose to focus on the stretches in the first half with what we did well and hopefully build on that and take into the games down the road," Manlet said.
Norwalk entertains Clyde in SBC Lake Division play on Saturday. Willard opens SBC Bay action on Saturday against Port Clinton at home.
Cassidy Crawford 6-5—18; Lydia Wiers 1-0—2; Jena Adams 2-0—4; Chloe Wiers 2-0—5; Mckenna Stephens 5-2—12; Haylie Hamons 2-0—4; Presley Feltner 2-0—4; Kalli Sowers 1-0—2; Becca Slone 1-0—3. TOTALS 22-7—54.
Mascie Horner 2-1—5; Paige Mauer 2-2—6; Elena Barber 0-4—4; Lindsey Koenig 2-1—7; Janel Jubak 1-0—2. TOTALS 7-8—24.
Willard 5 16 23 10 — 54
Norwalk 8 5 0 11 — 24
3-point FGs: (W) Crawford, C. Wiers, Slone; (N) Koenig 2
JV: Willard, 48-41