A little Mariah and a lot of half-court traps.
The Northwestern girls basketball team used that timeless Valentine's Day formula to cruise to a 50-28 win against the Laurens Raiders in Class AAAA tournament action Tuesday.
Junior Mariah McCoy scored a game-high 15 points, and the Raiders committed 33 turnovers.
Northwestern (19-5) forced 17 turnovers in the first half and held Laurens (7-14) scoreless for the entire second quarter. That helped the Trojans build a commanding 28-8 lead.
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"As a team we have to be able to defend the whole court," Northwestern coach John Bramlett said. "That gives us the ability to get in transition and score easy baskets. We have struggled in the half court all season, and that showed tonight."
Northwestern indeed started slow by shooting just 2 of 15 in the first quarter. McCoy scored six points, however, including four free throws. The Trojans led 9-8 before the game-changing period.
"(McCoy) took it upon herself to be aggressive and get to the basket," Bramlett said. "She's a 90 percent free-throw shooter."
The Raiders opened the second quarter with six straight turnovers. Ieshia Love, Cayse Branyon and McCoy all hit 3-pointers for the Trojans to help open up the 20-point halftime lead.
Natalie Henderson added six straight points in the third period. By the time Laurens broke its scoring drought on a free throw by Maryanna Moore with 6:05 left in the quarter, Northwestern had the game well in hand.
The Trojans face Greenwood on Friday, which was 96-61 winners over Hillcrest on Tuesday night.
"We have got to come out and practice with a lot of energy," Bramlett said. "We really have to work on the 'man' offense."
Northwestern 50, Laurens 28
Laurens - Jalyn McDowell 10, Amber Anderson 2, Katie Sherfield 3, Maryanna Moore 7, Alexis Moses 4, Maleaka Neal 2.
Northwestern - Ieshia Love 9, Aubrianna Thompson 8, Cayse Branyon 3, Natalie Henderson 6, Savannah Jones 4, Antonisha Hardy 4, Mariah McCoy 15, Ikeia Miller 1.
3-pointers - Laurens 0, Northwestern 3 (Love 1, Branyon 1, McCoy 1).
Team fouls - Laurens 18, Northwestern 18. Fouled out - None.
Records: Laurens 7-14, Northwestern 19-5