Second to none: Defensive pressure in 2nd half lifts Warriors past Wildcats
The message was loud and clear.
After going into halftime tied 28-28, the Central High School girls basketball team put on a suffocating defensive display in the second half for a 67-36 victory over Fruita Monument.
The Warriors outscored the Wildcats 39-8 in the second half, allowing only three points in the third quarter.
“We were disappointed with the first half, and we needed to show we can play better,” Central’s Amy Kame said. “We had to come out in the second half and send a message.”
Central took control of the game with a full-court press. The Warriors used their team speed and size to trap the Wildcats in the backcourt and create turnovers.
Central coach Todd Dixon said the press wasn’t anything different than what they’d been running in the first half. The major difference in the second half was the Warriors executed the press better.
“It was the same press in the second half, but in the first half we were backpedaling, not playing passing lanes and giving them open looks,” Dixon said.
“We didn’t make any adjustments; we told them to step up, and when you have a team that can do that, you know you have a special team.”
The Warriors’ defense forced Fruita Monument into turnover after turnover. What kept the Wildcats in the game in the first half was being able to find open shots by setting up half-court offensive sets. In the second half, the half-court offense disappeared.
“I have no doubt that we had more turnovers in the second half than shot attempts,” Fruita Monument coach Dan Schmalz said. “We couldn’t get the ball into the frontcourt, and we didn’t execute the way we should.”
Fruita nearly let the game get away early as Kame scored 13 first-quarter points to give Central an 18-11 lead. Although Kame started hot offensively, she got into foul trouble and sat out almost the entire second quarter.
The Wildcats used that opportunity to cut into the Warriors’ lead. Sarah Hensley hit two 3-pointers in the quarter, including a deep shot with 1:31 left that gave the Wildcats their first lead, 28-26.
Hensley led the Wildcats with 12 points.
“Hensley’s a good player and we left her open too much,” Dixon said. “That’s our fault, and we have to do a better job, but she didn’t get a whole lot of looks in the second half.”
In the third quarter, Kame picked up where she left off, scoring 14 points and pulling down seven rebounds as Central took a 49-31 lead. Kame led all scorers with 35 points and Haleigh Higgins added 18.
“We had to find it within ourselves to play with some passion,” Dixon said. “From here on out, we have to compete the whole game like we did in the second half.”
Central is off until next Thursday when it hosts Montrose. Fruita Monument plays Westminster at 3 this afternoon at Fruita.