At this point in the season, Scott County Coach Steve Helton expects more from his team.
But when it's lose or go home, he's just happy with a win.
In the semifinals of the 42nd District Tournament Tuesday, the No. 16 Cardinals used a big third quarter to cruise past Sayre 78-43 in a girls' high school basketball game at Bryan Station.
"We've been preaching consistency all season long and, if ever there was a time for us to put those words into action, it's now in the post-season," Helton said.
If the defending 11th Region champions want to get back to the state finals for the second straight year, Helton said, they have to get more consistent in a hurry.
One of his seniors agreed.
"Coach calls it our roller-coaster ride," said senior Kristen Stainback, who led the Cardinals with 20 points, including 14 in the second half. "We just haven't been consistent at all."
Case in point: The Cardinals breezed out to an early lead, then allowed Sayre to get back within a point, 10-9, halfway through the first quarter. The Cards responded with a 12-2 run to double up the Spartans.
They led by as many as 15 points in the first half before Sayre's defense started to bother the Cardinals, forcing them to cough up the ball nine times that quarter.
The Spartans used a 12-4 run to cut it to single digits near the end of the second quarter, and they trailed 39-28 at halftime.
"Sayre played harder than we did in the first half," Helton said. "We have an opportunity to be very good but, from night to night, we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball."
The Cards, who won their third straight, found their groove in the third quarter, outscoring Sayre 24-8 behind 12 points from Stainback.
"We came out slow in the first half and then picked it up a lot in the third quarter," Stainback said. "All we can do is play as hard as we can and try to make good things happen that way."
The Cardinals (16-10) got a big boost from Holly Huellemeier, who has been back only a few games after a stress fracture in her lower leg.
She scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds for Scott County, which shot 55.6 percent in the second half and 53.7 percent overall.
"We're getting her back in the flow," Helton said. "She's taking us to a whole new level."
Maddie Mitchell led the Spartans with 21 points. Bea Cameron added six points, seven assists and four steals. Cameron is one of just two seniors on this year's team, which finished 19-6 despite its youth.
SAYRE (19-6) — Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Cameron 2-7 2-2 6, Mitchell 9-17 3-4 21, Sophie O'Rourke 2-6 0-0 4, Bowie 2-4 3-6 7, Culbertson 2-8 1-2 5, Rahman 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 17-43 9-15 43.
scott co. (16-10) — Stainback 7-13 4-4 20, Christopher 2-6 1-2 7, Huellemeier 7-8 2-2 16, Conrad 3-5 1-2 10, McKenzie 2-6 2-2 6, Guyn 5-7 0-0 10, Guy 1-2 2-2 4, Tevis 1-3 0-0 2, DeFoor 0-2 0-0 0, Buchanan 0-1 0-2 0, Eaton 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 29-54 12-16 78.
Sayre 11 17 8 7—43
Scott Co. 22 17 24 15—78