NORTH JUDSON | Rochester's defense was key in the second half against Hebron on Friday night in the semifinals of the Class 2A North Judson Sectional.
The Zebras allowed only five points in the second half in a 55-26 win over the Hawks.
"Rochester came out fired up (from halftime). We tell our kids the first four minutes of the second half is very important part of the game," Schulte said. "Obviously, Rochester got that same message because they came out all fired up, and we went two possessions in a row not knowing who we're guarding. There were some defensive break downs in that third quarter."
Rochester's defense did not allow Hebron to score until 1:49 remained in the third quarter after a Madison Bell jumper. At that point, Rochester led 42-23. The Zebras defense didn't allow another basket until about three minutes left in the game after a Rachel Pauer layup.
Early in the first quarter, the Hawks and Zebras were tied at 8-8 before Rochester went on a 7-0 run and a 15-8 lead. Hebron pulled to within three at 18-15 in the second quarter after a Emily DeFries 3-pointer, but Rochester went on a 11-5 run to end the second quarter and take a 29-21 lead into halftime.
"They're (Hebron) a very athletic and got us out of our comfort zone," Rochester coach Tony Stesiak said. "But I liked how we responded. ... It's hard to complain when you give up five points in the second half."
The Zebras outrebounded the Hawks 36-15.
"Rebounding has been a factor all year. We constantly work on it in practice, we just need to get more physical," Hebron coach Stephanie Schulte said. "They (Rochester) were missing enough shots for us to get back into the game, but they were getting too many second, third and fourth chance opportunities."
Abbie Malchow and Rylee Holland both had 11 points for the Zebras (16-5). Emily DeFries and Christy Reick both had six points to lead the Hawks (9-11).
In the first semifinal matchup of the night, Winamac jumped out to a 17-0 lead en route to a 61-35 victory over North Newton.
"You dig a hole like that, and you feel like you have to be in a big hurry. They (Winamac) dictated the tempo the whole game, and they're a solid basketball team," North Newton coach Robert Gonczy said.
The Spartans (5-15) got on the board with 1:39 left in the first quarter after a Morgan Lang jumper. Lang had a game high 17 points.
North Newton made 13-of-35 shots, and were only 2-of-14 from the 3-point line.
"I thought our kids were working on our composure, but not really taking the right shots," Gonczy said.
Winamac took a 35-12 lead into halftime.
"We were surprised by how many rebounds we were getting, we just weren't able to do anything with them," Gonczy said. "We kind of made a pact at halftime that if you get a loose ball or a rebound, at least go up and get fouled. When we did that, even though we didn't get fouled a lot we made some more baskets."
Stephanie Shorter led the Warriors (17-5) with 14 points. Carly Slayton had eight points for North Newton.