Guards help guide way

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By John Kampf JKampf@news-her­ald.com @nh­preps on Twit­ter

The Gil­mour girls bas­ket­ball team is of­ten iden­ti­fied for its Al­lOhio for­ward Naz Hill­mon, and right­fully so. The 6-foot-2 se­nior, headed to the Univer­sity of Michi­gan fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion, is av­er­ag­ing 21 points and 14 re­bounds this sea­son.

But as the Lancers pre­pare for a Di­vi­sion II state semi­fi­nal March 16 against Bell­brook, they will do so with a trio of trump cards in their hand — guards An­nika Cor­co­ran, Sarah Bohn and Emma Gur­ley.

While Bell­brook boasts a pair of vet­eran guards in Cas­sidy Ho­facker and Beka Vine — each be­ing four-year starters — Gil­mour coun­ters with a trio of guards with im­pres­sive cre­den­tials in their own right.

Head­ing into the state tour­na­ment, Cor­co­ran, Bohn and Gur­ley have com­bined for 51 points and oo­dles of ex­pe­ri­ence in the past two state tour­na­ments.

It’s an ad­van­tage the girls hope helps them when the Lancers face the Ea­gles with a berth in the state ti­tle game on the line.

“It helps with con­fi­dence, know­ing we’ve been there and played in those types of games,” said Bohn, a se­nior. “We have had ad­verse sit­u­a­tions and came out on the win­ning side. That helps go­ing into the state tour­na­ment.”

Ev­ery team Gil­mour faced this year tai­lored its de­fen­sive game plan around stop­ping — or at least slow­ing down — Hill­mon.

Most ev­ery team paid the dear price of leav­ing Cor­co­ran, Bohn and Gur­ley alone at dif­fer­ent times to hurt them.

All three girls av­er­age more than 10 points per game, and each has hit more than 50 3-point­ers this sea­son.

And the scary thing is — none have all played well on the same night. Yet. “I don’t there’s been a game when all three of us were hit­ting,” said Cor­co­ran, a ju­nior point guard.

“Yeah, usu­ally it’s just one or two of us,” Gur­ley, an­other se­nior, said.

“It just de­pends on the day,” Bohn chimed in.

Which makes Gil­mour tremen­dously dif­fi­cult to de­fend.

A glimpse of the ver­sa­til­ity was seen in the state tour­na­ment a year ago when Gur­ley lit up Colum­bus Afri­cen­tric for 17 points in a state semi­fi­nal vic­tory.

The next day in the cham­pi­onship game, Bohn had 10 points while Gur­ley had five.

Cor­co­ran had seven as­sists in the tour­na­ment, serv­ing for of an of­fen­sive fa­cil­i­ta­tor rather than a scorer.

This year, all the guards are shoot­ing at a tremen­dous clip.

“We have three back from a team that won state,” Coach John Cur­ran said. “You can’t al­ways ex­pect to have that. It’s a nice lux­ury to have.”

The trio of guards aren’t just hot shots on of­fense. They are also the key to Gil­mour’s de­fense.

That perime­ter de­fense will be key against Bell­brook, whose three lead­ing scor­ers in the start­ing lineup are all guards — Ho­facker (11.6), Vine (10.7) and Brook­lynn Hall (5.7). Guard Maren Freuden­schuss (7.9) comes off the bench for more scor­ing clout.

Suf­fice to say, guard play will prove to be para­mount in the Gil­mour-Bell­brook game on the de­fen­sive end of the floor.

“We take pride in our half­court de­fense,” Bohn said. “We like to get steals, and that leads to our of­fense.”

Again, Hill­mon’s pres­ence comes into play. Hav­ing a 6-2 pres­ence in the post al­lows the guards out front to play tighter and more risky de­fense.

“With Naz down there, it gives us some com­fort that if we get beat off the drib­ble, there’s some­one pro­tect­ing the flag, so to speak,” Cur­ran said.

Cor­co­ran, Bohn and Gur­ley don’t want it to get to that point, though.

The de­fen­sive safety net is there — but they’d pre­fer to take care of busi­ness on their own.

Whether it’s on the of­fen­sive end of the court or the de­fen­sive end, Gil­mour knows it has a mar­quee player in Naz Hill­mon. She can dom­i­nate both ends.

But so can Cor­co­ran, Bohn and Gur­ley — just in dif­fer­ent ways.

Add that skill set in with ex­pe­ri­ence, and the Lancers feel they have a trio of trump cards that they can play on any given night.

When all three are work­ing — the girls in­sist it hasn’t hap­pened yet this sea­son — the Lancers are that much more dif­fi­cult to beat.

“I don’t think we put pres­sure on our­selves, but we know al­most ev­ery night at least one of us is go­ing to be on,” Cor­co­ran said. “That’s the way it’s played out so far. If we can keep that go­ing, we’re go­ing to be suc­cess­ful.”

JOHN KAMPF — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

As Gil­mour pre­pares for the Di­vi­sion II state tour­na­ment, it will do so with a trio of vet­eran guards (from left) An­nika Cor­co­ran, Sarah Bohn and Emma Gur­ley.

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