WARDSVILLE - Blair Oaks Lady Falcons coach Leroy Bernskoetter was confident his team would eventually make some shots.
He was right.
After shooting less than 35 percent from the field in the first half, Blair Oaks rallied to claim a 58-37 win against Russellville on Monday night.
"I told them at halftime, "Don't worry about it, they'll start to fall,'" Bernskoetter said. "We just needed to get in a flow. They did a lot better job after that. They started to not think about it and just make their shots."
Blair Oaks (5-1) was 9-of-26 from the field in the first half, but the Lady Falcons made more than 53 percent of their shots in the final two quarters to hold off Russellville (2-5).
"Russellville is a good team and they're well-coached," Bernskoetter said. "They were scrappy, disciplined and they made us work really hard."
Blair Oaks jumped out to a 10-7 lead, despite going just 3-of-14 from the field in the first quarter. The Falcons started to heat up in the second quarter after Chelsi Emerson and Lauren Viessman hit back-to-back jumpers. LeeAnn Polowy followed with a deep 3-pointer to cap off a 7-0 run that gave Blair Oaks a 17-8 lead with 5:35 left in the half.
Russellville would get a balanced scoring attack to stay within striking distance, but still trailed 24-17 entering the third quarter.
"We missed a lot of easy shots and Blair Oaks finished theirs," Russellville coach David Volkart said. "We didn't finish; they did."
The Lady Falcons extended their lead to 11 after a short jumper by Polowy with 4:20 left in the third quarter, but Russellville senior A.J. Grellner answered with a 3-pointer bring the Indians within eight.
The momentum didn't last long for Russellville.
Blair Oaks ended the quarter on an 11-4 run to take a 41-26 lead. Polowy scored eight of her game-high 26 points in the period.
"We played timid and we let Polowy dictate the game," Volkart said. "She's a good basketball player, a really good basketball player. She dictated the tempo, she took control and we let her."
The Falcons continued to control the tempo in the fourth quarter, outscoring Russellville 17-10 on 6-of-11 shooting.
"I felt like our team just has a desire to win - a lot more than any other team," said Polowy, who had a team-leading seven rebounds to go along with three assists and two blocks. "We may be small, but we're scrappy. It doesn't matter which opponent is on the floor, we're going to get at them and show them who we are."
Polowy was 3-of-7 from behind the arc and 7-of-13 from the field after finding success by driving the lane. Sara Jones added nine points, three steals, and four assists to help lead Blair Oaks, which went 8-of-13 from the free-throw line and claimed a 29-21 rebounding advantage.
Grellner scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while Justice Miller chipped in nine for the Lady Indians, who committed 16 turnovers.
Russellville was 16-of-47 from the field and 4-of-7 from the charity stripe.
"It boils down to making shots," Volkart said. "We had a few breakdowns defensively, but for the most part when they got an open shot they knocked it down and we didn't take advantage of ours."
Russellville returns to action Thursday at Tuscumbia.
Blair Oaks travels Thursday to St. Elizabeth.
"It's great to look at our first game, to now, and see how much improvement we're making," Polowy said. "That's going to be key for later in the season."
The Blair Oaks junior varisty team claimed a 51-23 win against Russellville in the opener.
Kellie Fredendall, who was in the starting lineup for the Lady Falcons' varsity team, scored a game-high 11 points. Payton Staggs added 10 to lead Blair Oaks.