Jeff Collver could feel the lead was reaching impressive heights, but he refused to look at the scoreboard.
After wins in each of their last three games by an average of 56 points, Collver was focused on the court, and whether or not his Frewsburg Bears, whom, he felt, had grown somewhat lax on the defensive end recently, were responding to his pregame challenge.
"I was so into the coaching part of it tonight I wasn't even paying attention (to the score)," Collver said. "I had told the kids before the game that one of the things I'd been missing about our defense was the physical nature of it. We had played Cardinal O'Hara at the beginning of the year and were just so physical and flying all over the court."
Reyanne Strong of Frewsburg tries a reverse layup in Wednesday night’s Section 6 Class C-2 girls basketball semifinal game at the McElrath Gymnasium. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
He then paused, and added with a smile, "I think I saw a little more of that tonight."
Answering their coach's call to action, the top-seeded Bears were aggressive on the boards, jumped passes and generally made life difficult for No. 4 Maple Grove, rolling to a 74-25 Section 6 Class C-2 semifinal victory on Wednesday night at the McElrath Gymnasium.
The victory sets up a rematch of last year's Class C-2 title bout with No. 2 Chautauqua Lake, which Frewsburg won, 70-43. This year's edition is slated for Saturday, 4:45 p.m., also at the McElrath Gymnasium.
When it was all said and done on Wednesday, Frewsburg had racked up 26 steals and hauled in 38 rebounds.
Shawna Raymond led the way with a game-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds, four steals and two assists; Reyanne Strong followed with 15 points; Annie Berg netted 13 points with seven rebounds and five steals; and Emily Hair connected for 10 points, six steals and three assists in the victory.
McKenzie Cass chipped in with eight points and four rebounds as well as the Bears went 29 of 60 (48 percent) from the field.
While Frewsburg's patented full-court pressure defense was in full force and keeping the Red Dragons at bay, it wasn't until the second period that the Bears' offense really got cooking.
Leading 14-5 at the end of the first quarter, Frewsburg, picking up turnover upon turnover, surged far ahead behind a 20-0 run that spanned more than four minutes. Strong kicked things off with a free throw and an offensive rebound and Berg took over from there with eight straight points before Hair finished up with seven of the last nine points in the period to balloon what had been a nine-point advantage into an insurmountable 40-10 cushion by halftime.
The run, which essentially extinguished any Maple Grove hopes of continuing its season, was facilitated by a minute change in the Frewsburg press.
"In the Frewsburg Holiday Tournament, until we made a few adjustments, (Maple Grove) kept the game pretty close early on with those deep passes ( down the court on the inbounds) from Lauren (Nickerson), who can really throw the ball," Collver recalled. "But we knew it, we prepared for it and actually put McKenzie on their taller player, Nickara Liddell. I think that kind of blew up a lot of what they wanted to do, and it forced them to pass it down into the corners, and when we were able to force them to do that we gained some traction."
Maple Grove, which was led by Nickerson's nine points, continued to battle in the third quarter. But Frewsburg enjoyed yet another extended 10-0 run - Raymond bookended the spree first with a jumper and then with a trey from the right wing - to make the score 57-15 with a little more than three to go in the quarter.
Up next, yet another C-2 championship battle with Chautauqua Lake.
"They're a fast, pressuring team and they've got great size," Collver said of his squad's future foes, "so we'll have our hands full. But the kids are ready and firing on all cylinders."
MAPLE GROVE (25)
Ahlstrom 0 0 0, E. Swanson 3 1 7, Franczak 0 0 0, Hemminger 0 0 0, Adams 1 2 4, Liddell 0 3 3, Davis 1 0 2, Nickerson 2 5 9, M. Swanson 0 0 0. Totals 7 11 25.
Steele 2 0 5, Raymond 8 0 18, Hair 2 6 10, Cass 4 0 8, Strong 6 3 15, Johnson 0 0 0, Knight 0 0 0, Lynn 2 0 5, Berg 5 3 13, Gardner 0 0 0. Totals 29 12 74.
3-point goals: Steele, Raymond 2, Lynn.
Maple Grove5 5 11 4 - 25
Frewsburg14 26 19 15 - 74