SSPP’s zone de­fense cor­rals Sal­is­bury Chris­tian

Record Observer - - Sports -

EAS­TON — The Sabres strug­gled against Sal­is­bury Chris­tian’s man-to-man de­fense Thurs­day af­ter­noon and foul trou­ble kept them from us­ing full-court pres­sure in an at­tempt to score easy points.

But that didn’t mat­ter against the Jaguars be­cause Saints Peter and Paul High’s girls’ bas­ket­ball team did what it’s been do­ing all sea­son — play tena­cious de­fense.

The Jaguars couldn’t pen­e­trate SSPP’s zone de­fense and shot poorly from be­yond the paint, and the Sabres bat­tled for a 37-29 vic­tory on se­nior night.

SSPP’s two se­niors, Jen Dou­glas and Me­gan Hickey, each were whis­tled for four fouls, but were able to avoid a fifth in lead­ing the Sabres’ ef­fort. Hickey fin­ished with a game-high 11 points and team­mate Sarah Rust net­ted 10.

“We came out re­ally slow un­for­tu­nately,” Hickey said. “Our first three-quar­ters didn’t go all that well for us, but our team re­ally pulled to­gether in the fourth quar­ter. It was a team ef­fort, from the bench, from the play­ers, from the stu­dents that came out and the par­ents that came out and sup­ported us. We’ve been work­ing on de­fense this year. That’s a big fo­cus of our game, and I think that ul­ti­mately again de­fense wins this game. When the shots aren’t fall­ing and when you’re not all there on of­fense, de­fense is re­ally what’s go­ing to pull you through.”

Led by Dou­glas and Rust un­der the glass, the Sabres dom­i­nated re­bound­ing with Rust do­ing much of the work in the fi­nal quar­ter. She scored eight of the Sabres’ 12 fourth-quar­ter points, de­spite hit­ting just four of 10 from the free-throw line.

“We’re lucky we won shoot­ing as bad as we did,” Sabres head coach Mark Pot­ter said. “Thirty-nine per­cent I think from the free-throw line. You can’t win many games like that. We didn’t turn the ball over as much to­day, so that was good. We just couldn’t get in a rhythm and part of that is a credit to them. They played man-toman de­fense and usu­ally we do pretty well against that. To­day we didn’t. We didn’t take ad­van­tage of some open op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Sa­vanna Dukes drained the only three-pointer for the Jaguars with 2 min­utes, 40 sec­onds re­main­ing in the fourth quar­ter to pull them within 32-29. Lauren Mills was fouled af­ter grab­bing an of­fen­sive re­bound to give the Jaguars a chance to pull closer. But she missed the front end of the one-and-one and Rust snared the re­bound.

The Sabres then passed the ball around the perime­ter on of­fense be­fore Hickey found Rust cut­ting to the bas­ket on the left side of the lane. Rust was fouled and hit one of two from the line. She missed a pair of free throws with 59 sec­onds re­main­ing, but later hit two af­ter grab­bing an of­fen­sive re­bound to end the game.

De­spite their head coach im­plor­ing them to foul in the fi­nal minute, the Jaguars didn’t re­spond with any ur­gency un­til too late, al­low­ing the Sabres to wind down the clock. Dou­glas and Cat Chris­tian each added a free throw in the fi­nal minute.

The Sabres’ largest lead un­til the end of the game was 13-6 mid­way through the se­cond quar­ter. The Jaguars closed the first half with a 6-2 run to make it 15-12, and they led twice in the third quar­ter, 16-15 and 21-20. But Chris­tian drained two buck­ets from op­po­site-side base­lines — the first one put SSPP in front to stay and the se­cond, a three­p­ointer, made it 25-21 head­ing into the fourth quar­ter.

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