The Scituate Sailors got their legs in the second quarter of Saturday’s Division 2 South girls championship game at UMass-Boston and knocked their challenger, Natick, out of the water with a 55-38 victory.
The No. 4 Sailors take on No. 2 Reading at the TD Garden on Tuesday.
Scituate (24-0) faltered in the first quarter, trailing 15-10 at the buzzer, but coach Brian Buckley knew they had it in them to make a comeback later in the game.
‘‘I thought [Natick] dominated in the first quarter with their physical toughness inside.’’ Buckley said. ‘‘They got all the loose balls.’’
Natick senior guard Lexi Gifford (28 points) took advantage of the scoring opportunities, shooting 3 for 4 from deep in the first quarter. She added another trey in the second quarter, finishing with 20 points in the half.
‘‘Lexi was hot early and I think she lost her legs in the second half a little bit,’’ Buckley said. ‘‘That was kind of our game plan, to wear her down. She played so well in the first half I said I don’t know if we’re going to be able to wear her down.’’
The Red and Blue (18-6) held on to the lead in the second quarter, going up by 8 with 2:45 left until halftime, but Scituate went on a 7-2 run to tighten it up.
Buckley made sure his team knew that they were going to have to play tough, fundamental basketball in the second half if they wanted to advance to the state semifinals.
‘‘I said, ‘If you want to win this, you’ve got to do what you’ve been doing all year, which is be aggressive,’’ Buckley said. ‘‘I think they had their legs under them at that point and they really played up to their potential.’’
The pep talk worked. Scituate came out and blazed a trail to the top, taking its first lead of the game just under a minute into the third quarter, 28-26, after Shannon Brady (14 points) and Megan Otto (14 points, 5 rebounds) hit back to back jumpers.
It was back and forth for the next two minutes, but Scituate went on an 11-0 run to end the quarter and had a 43-32 advantage going into the fourth. Natick shot 3 for 11 in the third quarter, compared with 9 for 14 by the Sailors.
Defense, which Buckley believes won the game, was key in the fourth quarter. Neither team scored more than 10 points but Scituate controlled the boards to clinch the win.
‘‘The defense really won the game for us, although I thought our offense clicked in the second half a little bit better,’’ Buckley said. ‘‘The kids took pride in the defense.’’