SSPP’s zone defense corrals Salisbury Christian
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.