Was it the kind of halftime locker room talk remindful of the movies? Dramatic or not, creative or not, loud or not, it did the job. And that's what mattered.
Indeed, the Hancock girls basketball Owls bounded back onto the court for the second half Thursday fueled with extra focus.
Jodi Holleman delivered those well-chosen halftime words. The location was Williams Arena. So many March Madness memories have been made there.
Coach Holleman's Owls added to those annals Thursday. Playing in the state quarter-finals, the Owls shook a deficit and beat their higher-ranked foe. That foe was Goodhue - the Wildcats.
The Thursday outcome was a 58-54 win over top-ranked Goodhue, enabling the Owls to advance to the Friday semis phase. This post is being put up on Friday. The Owls are playing at Target Center, home of the NBA's Timberwolves, today.
From now on they're on TV. Owl Kendra Schmidgall, a prolific scorer, was quoted in the Star Tribune saying "we had to gather ourselves at halftime and step it up. We didn't want to go home."
Schmidgall was a good player to seek out for quotes. The standout junior student athlete, who plays center, scored 15 of her game total 19 points in the second half. Her prowess was a big reason why Hancock shook the ten-point deficit that hung over them at one point.
Star Tribune writer Ron Haggstrom summed up Holleman's halftime talk as: "Toughen up or go home."
Going home would be a long bus ride. The Owls weren't ready for that yet. They could taste the state 1A championship and wanted to show their mettle by getting past the top-ranked team.
The Owls enter today's semis challenge with a 27-2 season record. It makes you wonder why they weren't ranked No. 1!
It wasn't coincidence that Schmidgall came to the fore in a special way in the game's pivotal stages. Coach Holleman reported to Haggstrom that the second half tactics had Schmidgall in a primary role. Haggstrom got this quote from the coach: "I told Kendra at halftime to put us on her back and carry us. She just smiled back at me."
Did Goodhue choke at halftime? My goodness, the Wildcats played a man-to-man defense in the first half that disrupted the Owls. The Owls had trouble maintaining possession of the ball. Goodhue withdrew from that stance when the second half unfolded.
The switch was like a gift-wrapped present for Schmidgall. The center poured in seven points in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half. The game now had a new complexion with the score tied up: 36-36.
Most of Hancock's opponents have found man-to-man to be the most effective defense against them, even though Hancock has proven to be able to overcome any kind of defense.
Were the Goodhue players showing some fatigue playing the chaotic man-to-man style? Who knows? But the Wildcats lost that earlier edge they had carved out. Still they were very much in this game with a few minutes left.
The Owls took the lead for good when Illissa Koehl, senior guard, made two freethrows. Koehl finished the afternoon with 19 points. She wasn't done with her poised freethrow work. With 3.4 seconds left, Koehl made two freethrows that sealed the outcome.
Haggstrom quoted Koehl saying "we had to take care of the ball better in the second half. If we didn't, it would be our last 18 minutes of the season."
How much steam did Goodhue lose in the second half? Goodhue made just seven field goals in that span.
Another quote from Holleman: "We turned up our defensive pressure in the second half. We didn't come this far to play one game. We came here to win it all."
The Owls could breathe a sigh of relief coming away with the win despite a game total 27 turnovers. A stat like that against a top-ranked foe might surely spell defeat. But the Owls look as though that word is foreign to them.
Goodhue finished second in state last season. The Wildcats have made state three straight seasons.
Hancock got a break when the top Wildcat scoring threat, Erica Tipcke, left the game due to fouls with 1:08 remaining. Tipcke had just six points on the day.
Goodhue's top scorers Thursday were Mikayla Miller and Chanel Robert, each with 12 points. Goodhue girls basketball closed out 2011 at 27-5.
Here's the individual scoring list for the victorious Owls: Shae Brown 2, Aria Walstad 4, Kendra Schmidgall 19, Courtney Greiner 11, Illissa Koehl 19 and Abby Ascheman 3.
Olivia Koehl didn't break into the scoring column.
The Owls had a sharp three-point shooting eye at Williams: Illissa Koehl and Kendra Schmidgall each made two of three attempts.
Walstad had a team-high five assists and Greiner had four. Schmidgall blocked four shots, and Greiner had two steals. The Owls made 18 of 33 shots from the field. The freethrow numbers: 18/24.
Update: The Owls were stopped in the state semis, in the most dramatic game of the tourney thus far, 60-57 by the Maranatha Mustangs. It took two OTs for the Mustangs to prevail.
The season is nearly done for HHS - the title drive is over - but the players and fans can embrace rich memories. The team carried the banner for Stevens County in the classiest way.
Congratulations from "I Love Morris" (BW).
Click on the link below to see the kmrs-kkok tribute page to the Owls on their website. But hey guys, "Owl's" doesn't have an apostrophe!
Click on the link below to access the Hancock girls basketball page on Maxpreps:
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org