The score spoke for itself and the effort was on full display, but New Bloomfield Lady Wildcats head coach Brett Craighead felt the need to shoot from the hip on his team's performance against the New Haven Lady Shamrocks.
"I thought we just got outworked (Thursday night)," Craighead said. "That's the first time I think I can say that all year that we just didn't show up to play.
"I'm just a little disappointed."
Thursday night's 41-29 loss to No. 4 seed New Haven isn't the kind of margin that leaves your jaw on the ground. But the real story of the game, a first-round contest from the South Callaway Tournament, can be seen in the score by quarters.
Craighead pinpointed his team's inability to string together a complete 32 minutes as its biggest problem through the first 12 games.
"We've done that all year in that we'll have one good quarter and then three bad ones, or two good ones and two bad ones, but we have put together a complete game only a couple of times this year," Craighead said.
The No. 5 Lady Wildcats got out to a fast 12-8 start at the end of the first quarter Thursday night. New Bloomfield got to the line, got on the boards and got easy shots on its way to scoring 12 of the game's first 20 points.
In fact, the Lady Wildcats (5-7) took that effort into the early portions of the second quarter and pushed their lead to seven points following a mid-range jump shot from senior guard Elizabeth Clark to put New Bloomfield up 15-8.
Unfortunately, those would be the last points the Lady Wildcats would score for the next 7 minutes. Craighead's team went colder than the winter weather that delayed the tournament's start by three days. The Lady Shamrocks went the other way, however, outscoring New Bloomfield 10-3 in the quarter - all 10 points unanswered to close the half.
Junior forward Kayla Oetterer keyed New Haven's surge by taking over any and all paint around the basket. Oeterrer scored six of her game-high 17 points in the second quarter to put the Lady Shamrocks up 18-15 at intermission.
"We have a tough time with people that are bigger than us in the post like that," Craighead said. "They found that and kept throwing it to her."
Craighead saw the lack of aggression on his team's part. The halftime break was devoted to getting that intensity up. And for the first three or so minutes of the third quarter, it seemed that New Bloomfield took that message to heart.
"I wanted them to just be more aggressive, which we were, but we just couldn't sustain it," Craighead said.
A layup from Lady Wildcats senior forward Amanda Howard with 4:03 left in the third quarter capped a 6-2 run to put New Bloomfield back on top 21-20. Howard - finishing with 10 points - was the only Lady Wildcats player in double figures.
"We went ahead right there in the third quarter, but we just couldn't keep that run going," Craighead said. "We got them to throw the ball away, but we couldn't finish."
But that was about all the comeback that his team had left in the tank. New Haven answered with a streak of its own, outscoring New Bloomfield 12-1 to end the quarter and push the Lady Shamrocks' lead back to 10 points at 32-22.
"We got a little break and had a game plan, but some of those shots didn't fall and it just kind of demoralizes you a little bit," Craighead said.
New Bloomfield didn't take bad shots. If anything, the Lady Wildcats worked the ball around well enough that a lot of their attempts came from point-blank range. Still, the close proximity didn't translate to conversions. New Bloomfield was outscored 33-17 in the final three quarters.
"You can't win a game when you score three points in a quarter (the second), which is what we did," Craighead said. "They (New Haven) went 6-for-10 (from the field) in the fourth quarter."
Ultimately that might have been the deal-breaker for the Lady Wildcats, who will take on No. 8 South Callaway at 7 tonight in a consolation semifinal at South Callaway Middle School.
"We've got to keep fighting because we've got two more (tournament) games this week," Craighead said.