When Norwalk took the lead early in the third quarter of Tuesday's non- conference game against Sandusky at Norwalk High School, Blue Streak coach Nic Venerucci got a similar feeling he's felt all season.
It was slipping away ... again.
But not this time. After Norwalk briefly went ahead 29-28 with 5:47 left in the third quarter, Sandusky outscored the hosts 29-11 over the final 13-plus minutes for the easy 57-40 victory.
Sandusky improved to 2-7 overall while Norwalk fell to 2-8.
"I'm just glad we recovered there, because it's something we haven't done this season," Venerucci said. "Our M.O. all year has been a lack of fourth quarter so I was expecting us to come out and play well in the first half, because in the second half we always falter.
"It was a different situation for us. We'll take a win because we finally put it all together. In the second half I give the girls a lot of credit."
Sandusky led 13-5 early in the second quarter before Norwalk went on a 15-8 scoring run to close within 21-20 in the final minute of the first half. But in the closing seconds, Sam Mayfield was fouled on a putback and hit both free throws to give the Streaks a 23-20 halftime lead.
A quick 9-5 scoring advantage to open the second half by Norwalk, sparked by a 3-pointer from Hannah Schneider to start the quarter, allowed the Truckers to go up 29-28, the first and only lead of the game.
"To get back in the game, Norwalk did a lot of nice things," Venerucci said. "They made some nice shots and got us on basket cuts. I told the girls in the timeout after they took the lead that we were in for a dogfight unless we start picking it up.
"Next thing you know we got rebounds and out in transition and got easy baskets."
Bri Crowe scored inside to give Sandusky the lead back, and Cara Croom hit a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 34-29 lead with 4:02 left in the third quarter.
"I thought that really poked our sails a little bit," Norwalk coach Marjoe Cooper said of Croom's 3-pointer.
Baskets by Amber Johnson and Croom pushed the lead up to double digits at 41-29, and the closest Norwalk got the rest of the way was a 43-35 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
For the game, Norwalk was just 16-of-58 shooting (28 percent).
"It comes down to, if you don't put the ball in the basket, you won't win a lot of games," Cooper said. "Shooting 28 percent won't win eighth grade games most of the time. But you still have to shake the trees, go back and try figure something out and push the right buttons.
"We're getting point blank, dead on the rim shots. We're getting great stops on defense and getting open looks, we're just not putting it in. That's been our albatross all year long."
Sandusky got 15 points and 13 rebounds from Mayfield along with 16 points and five rebounds from Croom. Crowe added eight points and five rebounds.
"Our keys to the season is the posts with Sam and Bri, and they are starting to buy in," Venerucci said. "Sam responded tonight and hit some free throws, and we knew we were going to get a good night from her when she hit her free throws."
For Norwalk, Schneider finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Oakley Shane added 10 points and six rebounds. Katie Gross had seven points and six rebounds.
Morgan Newell 2-1--5; Sam Mayfield 5-5--15; Bri Crowe 4-0--8; Cara Croom 6-2--16; Rebecca Lewis 1-1--3; Kiah Roldan 1-0--2; Amber Johnson 1-0--2; Caroline Estel 3-0--6; TOTALS 23-9--57
Hannah Schneider 6-0--13, Oakley Shane 4-2--10, Katie Gross 1-5--7, Haley Souslin 1-0--2; Lindsay Zeimke 2-0--4; Kaiti Beveridge 1-0-2; Sydnie Fetherolf 1-0-2; TOTALS 16-7--40
Sandusky 11 12 20 14 -- 57
Norwalk 5 15 15 5 -- 40
3-pt FG: Sandusky 2 (Croom 2); Norwalk 1 (Schneider)
JV: Norwalk 33-25