At Empire, a difficult first half of girls basketball by both the Ravens and the visiting Pusch Ridge Lions was followed by an ugly second-half accident.

The Lions won easily, 44-24. They’re 9-1 entering the Northwest Desert Classic, which will be played both at Pusch Ridge and Mountain View high schools Dec. 27-30.

Late in the fourth quarter last week, junior guard Caroline Roessler went crashing into the floor, face first, after being fouled by an awkward Raven. She suffered a major concussion, and may have other complications.

Pusch Ridge coach Lonnie Tvrdy did not think it was a dirty foul. “The defender was off balance and there was contact,” Tvrdy said.

The Lions led at halftime 11-10, the two clubs were a combined five of 27 from the floor in the first quarter, and neither team made a field goal the first four minutes of the second quarter.

“In the first half,” Tvrdy said, “there was way too much individual play. They were ad-libbing. We were making one pass and shooting.”

Pusch Ridge found some offense in the second half, making six out of nine field goals attempts in the third quarter. Haley Christensen and Gabrielle Courtney each tallied 13 for the Lions.

“In the first half, our defensive effort wasn’t where it needed to be,” Christensen said. “We decided to work as a team. We needed each other and used each other. We helped each other in the second half.

“This team struggles with being vocal,” Tvrdy said. “We were talking more in the second half. In the second half, they knew where the other players were on each play.

“Our identity is defense,” Tvrdy said. “It picked up in the second half and we were getting easy baskets because of it.”

Defensive pressure “starts with our starting guards, Abby Maas, Caroline Roessler and Gabrielle Courtney,” Tvrdy said. “They set the tone. Don’t let people beat you off the dribble.”

It helps when Christensen plays with “focused intensity,” Tvrdy said. “When the post players shore up their defense, we’ll be a tremendous team.”

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