Ask Billings Central girls basketball coach Jeff Malby and he'll tell you: The Rams have struggled at times to play with energy, establish momentum and sustain the lead.
But that wasn't the case Friday night.
Katie Cummins scored 14 points and Allie Lucas came off the bench to add a game-high 16 as the Rams ran past Glendive 50-40 in an Eastern A contest at the Nelles Center.
Central led by two points after the first quarter, but went on a 16-4 run over the course of a five-minute stretch in the second to forge a double-digit lead it never surrendered.
"Before the game we talked about sustaining our energy throughout," Cummins said. "I think we just surged up our full-court defense and that got us some easy baskets that we transitioned with."
Central took advantage, especially, in the second quarter.
Lucas started the burst with a driving shot through the lane at the 5:55 mark. Sammy Elliott made a shot from the left wing on the Rams' ensuing possession, then immediately stole Glendive's in-bound pass and laid the ball in to increase the lead.
Cummins followed with a 3-pointer after Justyn Juhl dove to save the ball from going out of bounds with 4:25 on the clock. Juhl later scored inside, Cummins hit another 3 and Kayla Lucas added a trey of her own. That gave the Rams a 29-15 advantage, which grew into a 37-22 lead late in the third quarter.
Malby credited his team for setting a fast pace at both ends of the floor.
"I think we really made a commitment to our after-score fast-break as well as our transition fast-break off the rebound," Malby said. "But we were finishing. In the first quarter we weren't quite in position to finish. In the second quarter we got that transition going and got some easier baskets. I thought that was the key."
The Rams took just 30 shots, but made 17 of them -- a potent percentage of .566. They also shot 12 of 14 from the free throw line. Allie Lucas was a perfect 8 for 8.
"We didn't transition well on defense," said first-year Glendive coach Jason Amundsen. "Our talk and our practice all week was to contest everything. And we didn't contest what we needed to contest.
"I tell you what, they shot well at home. They shot really well. And that's just one of those things we're going to have to adjust to."
Still, the Lady Devils never went away. Brittany Lystad scored five consecutive points to pull Glendive within nine points -- 43-34 -- with 3:32 remaining. But they got no closer.
Lystad finished with a team-high 13 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Devyn Asche added 11 points for the Lady Devils. Elliott chipped in eight points and four rebounds for Central.
"We were coming off a tough loss in Hardin, so we knew we needed to get back on the right track," Cummins said. "It was really nice to win at home."
The Rams improved to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the Eastern A. Glendive dipped to 5-3 and 1-2.
NOTES: Saturday's scheduled game between Central and Sidney in Billings has been postponed due to the death of Sidney High School teacher Sherry Arnold. Rams athletic director Tracy Scott said the game will likely be made up sometime in mid-February. Saturday's boys game between the Rams and Eagles in Sidney will go on as scheduled.