“We finally started getting some shots to fall,” Salt Fork coach Jeff Carleton said. “We didn’t shoot very well in the first half. We have struggled with our shooting, and we finally got some shots to fall. We got a little momentum going, and then it seemed like every time we would get something going, we would throw the ball away. We would have a costly turnover that would turn into two or maybe three. They would get the lead back, so we were always fighting from behind all night long.”
Peoples helped his squad remain calm during the stretch in which it gave up the lead and momentum. His tactics worked, and the Hilltoppers were able to regain their edge.
“At that point, I sat down on the bench,” Peoples said. “I didn’t yell and scream as much. I tried to make sure that our girls knew and understood that basketball is a game of momentum. We stress that a lot during practice. What can we do to regain that momentum?
“We switched our defense up in the fourth quarter, and things started to click. Even though we shot a poor free throw percentage — even our field goal percentage, I hate to see what that is. It was our defense that kept us in the game, and it was our defense that helped us win the game.”
Salt Fork committed 20 turnovers in the game with eight coming in the final 7:30. Schlarman Academy was credited with 10 steals in the game, backing Peoples’ willingness to make the game ugly on defense. The Hilltoppers converted on nine of those 20 opportunities scoring 17 points off of turnovers.
“We had a lot of steals, a lot of offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds,” Marion said. “I think our defense was really on key tonight.