NEW FRANKLIN — Tipton jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a 59-34 win over Westran in the first game of the 84th annual New Franklin Invitational Tournament on Wednesday.
The Cardinals’ full-court press forced six Westran turnovers in the first three minutes of the game and Loryn Hirst went on a 7-0 run on her own as Tipton opened the game with a 10-0 lead.
“I think we were stopping them before halfcourt, before they could get on their side of the court,” Hirst said. “That worked really well. We stopped them before they could get to the basket.”
Westran (1-8) didn’t even attempt a shot until its fourth possession of the game and shot 3 of 10 from the field in the first quarter while Tipton hit 8 of 18 from the field and led 20-8 after one.
“We came out and we pressured the ball and played from the start like we’ve been playing our second half in games,” said Tipton coach Jason Culpepper. “We’ve been more laid back in the start and not being aggressive. We started out the game aggressive and very in-your-face like we should. I’ve been stressing that to them.”
More than once this season, the Cardinals (3-4) have seen other teams take big leads in the first half against them. Tipton rallied after trailing Sacred Heart 18-10 but could not do the same against Otterville at the W-K Shootout. Against Westran, Tipton applied the pressure immediately and never trailed.
“I told them you can’t expect to get down by double digits in the first half and win,” Culpepper said. “We came out. We played man-to-man and pressured them from the start and I really think that helped our offense.”
That pressure resulted in a pair of steals in the first quarter by Ashton Pace as well as steals from Jessica Petree, Angela Petree and Lindsey Cooper. Tipton scored 10 of its 20 first quarter points off of Westran turnovers.
When they did set up in a half court offense, the Cardinals first looked to work the ball inside, scoring 24 points in the paint, 20 of them in the first half.
“Whether they were playing man-to-man or zone, if we can keep spacing and cut to the ball, you can catch them napping sometimes,” Culpepper said. “We caught them napping a few times and got some easy looks.”
That opened up outside looks for Caroline Combs, who hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter, two more in the second and another in the third to finish with 14 points.
“Just using a lot of penetration and kicking it out worked,” Hirst said. “We just kept doing that and she was hitting.”
One of those 3-pointers made it 23-8 early in the second quarter. Westran got back to within nine late in the quarter before Tipton went on a 9-0 run to take a 36-18 lead into halftime.
That lead grew to 22 points when Angela Petree hit a jumper midway through the third quarter to make it 44-22. That was part of a 16-1 run in the third capped off by 3-pointers from Jessica Petree and Combs and another jumper from Angela Petree.
Hirst led Tipton with 17 points, nine in the first quarter alone.
“I just came out and played my first quarter like I would my fourth quarter,” she said. “I played as hard as I could.”
She also had eight rebounds. Paige Baker pulled down nine rebounds. Jessica Petree had seven rebounds to go with 11 points.
NEW FRANKLIN TOURNAMENT SEMINFAL: Tipton vs. Sturgeon or Fayette
4:30 p.m. Thursday