The Stephens College Stars probably couldn’t have given away their game against Mount Mary College on Saturday if they wanted to.
With four minutes left in the first half, it was beginning to look like the Blue Angels might not score — at all. If they had earned a point for every time they hit the backboard with a shot, they still might not have won.
The crowd at Silverthorne Arena let loose its loudest applause of the day when the Blue Angels made a basket to make the score 32-3 shortly before halftime. It was an ovation that was as mocking as it was encouraging, and it seemed to ease the embarrassment the crowd felt for the visiting team.
Regardless of the degree of difficulty, the Stars and coach Dane Pavlovich said they were happy to walk away with the 72-14 victory.
“I think, first and foremost, we get a win we needed. It’s kind of nice to have that going into our Christmas break,” Pavlovich said. “It was an easy win for us, but at the same time, it’s one in the left-hand column.”
Pavlovich said he was impressed with how his team shared the ball, worked the clock and ran its press defense, but it was obvious that the Stars (4-6) were simply the superior team. Twelve players scored for the Stars, and leading scorer Rachel Henderson outscored the Blue Angels on her own with 15 points.
The Stars used their depth to wear out the Blue Angels, who only dressed five players.
“We play 12 (players) pretty consistently. I like to go to our bench because we have a great deal of depth, and we can wear out some people,” Pavlovich said. “We’re so young, any experience we can get is going to help us out down the road.”
For Stephens, down the road is, at the earliest, a month away. The Stars take off for finals week and then for winter break. They don’t play again until Jan. 10.
“We depend a lot on our players getting back with their high school teams and practicing,” Pavlovich said. “It’s a lot of internal motivation. They’ve got to want to be better. If they go and work and do the things they’re supposed to do and come back ready to play, then I think the sky is the limit.”
Pavlovich, who was a high school coach for four years before going to Stephens, won’t be able to keep tabs on his players over break because the Stars don’t have any players from Columbia.
“It’s funny how things work out,” Pavlovich said. “There’s a different story for every kid. Rachel (Henderson) visited with a friend, and the friend didn’t like the school. Rachel was just kind of up to get a day off of school and to visit a new place, and she loved it. Now she’s here starting for us.”
Henderson, who is making a nearly six-hour trip back to her hometown of Jackson, Tenn., over break, plans to run and work out with her former high school team, which her sister plays for.
Although the team doesn’t get the opportunity to play again until January, Pavlovich was encouraged as much by his team’s play as he was the victory.
“We were 3-11 last year at this time. We’re making improvements. We just have to continue to get better and get ourselves to .500 and then see what happens.”
It wouldn’t hurt if they faced the Mount Mary Blue Angels a few more times along the way.