Adam Holtzer was genuinely concerned about his team heading into Saturday night's game against archrival Honesdale.
Wallenpaupack Area's young hoops coach had watched his girls struggle in the first half of its last three games, two of which went right down to the wire.
This time, with the championship of the 2013 Jaycees Holiday Tournament hanging in the balance, Paupack couldn't afford a sluggish start.
"I knew we had to get the offense going right off the bat," Coach Holtzer said. "If we dug ourselves a hole against Honesdale on their own court, we'd be in big trouble."
As it turned out, he needn't have worried.
The Lady Bucks came out with guns blazing. Led by tournament Most Valuable Player Bridgette Mann, Paupack opened the game on a 14-0 run and never looked back en route to a 51-41 victory.
"It wasn't the prettiest win, but we'll definitely take it," said Coach Holtzer.
"We got off to a great start, but then it got interesting later on. The important thing is that we won and hopefully we'll use this momentum going forward into the regular season."
With the win, Paupack upped its overall record to 6-1 on the year. The Lady Bucks will open up their Lackawanna League campaign Friday with a road game at North Pocono.
Mann ignited Paupack's offensive attack almost from the opening tip.
Bridgette had erupted for a game-high 22 points against Western Wayne in the semis and continued that torrid shooting in Saturday's title tilt.
The senior guard drilled a deep trey less than two minutes in, then added a pair of acrobatic buckets in transition.
Page 2 of 3 - By the time Honesdale Coach Pilar Beam could call timeout, Mann had helped her team to a scorching 14-0 start.
Mann would finish her night with 19 points and be a unanimous choice for tournament Most Valuable Player.
"Bridgette does everything well, she's a very good all-round player," said Coach Holtzer. "I'm very happy for her getting MVP. She definitely deserves it."
Jackie Gallik finally got Honesdale on the board with a short jumper, but the Lady Hornets were still faced with a daunting 18-5 deficit after one quarter.
Honesdale has been experiencing an offensive drought of its own this season.
The Lady Hornets shot a combined 24 percent from the floor in their past three games, a loss to Montrose and narrow wins over Mid Valley and Forest City.
"The ball just isn't going in for us right now," Coach Beam admitted. "But, the girls are working really hard. We'll get it figured out one of these days."
Unfortunately for Maple City hoops fans, that day didn't come in the Jaycees final.
The Red & Black shot an abysmal 3-for-18 in the first quarter and were just 8-for-40 at intermission.
Nevertheless, Honesdale ratcheted up the defense and managed to take a nice chunk out of Paupack's lead.
Gallik and Amber Watkins paced a balanced assault with eight points apiece. Katie Miller would contribute seven to the cause, while Morgan Birmelin and Stacey Hart chipped in with six each.
By the end of the third period, Honesdale had cut the margin to just two points at 33-31 and thunderous roars were echoing through the gym rafters.
Over & Out
Page 3 of 3 - Raeann Ehrhardt and Molly Jansco keyed Paupack's final run, which broke open a close contest and carried the Lady Bucks to a double digit win.
Ehrhardt played relentless defense against Miller, one of the most feared scorers in the entire Lackawanna League. She held Katie to single digits and even found time to tally eight points of her own.
For her efforts, Ehrhardt was named to the All-Tournament Team.
"Raeann played all 32 minutes tonight and that's something you don't see very much anymore," Coach Holtzer said. "She did an outstanding job against a very good player and she definitely deserved to be an all star."
Meanwhile, Jansco flexed her muscles in the low post for Paupack. The athletic sophomore forward powered her way to nine points and cleaned the boards to the tune of nine rebounds.
Nicki Mann sealed the deal on this one. A senior point guard, Mann handled the Honesdale press with confidence, generated two key turnovers late in the game and drained crucial free throws down the stretch.
Mann finished up with 13 points, five steals and four assists.
Score by Quarters...
WAL (6-1) 18 9 6 18 - 51
HON (5-2) 5 14 12 10 - 41