Mount Saint Joseph bas­ket­ball falls to un­de­feated Saint Basil.

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Andrew Robin­son arobin­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

So far this sea­son, the Saint Basil Academy girls bas­ket­ball team has shown its de­fense trav­els.

The Pan­thers au­thored some im­pres­sive early-sea­son wins with their de­fense prior to head­ing down to North Carolina last week for a hol­i­day tour­na­ment. There, they put the clamps on ev­ery­one, won a tour­na­ment ti­tle and made sure to check the de­fense with the rest of their bags for the trip back.

A ro­bust de­fense ef­fort helped the Pan­thers im­prove to 10-0 Thurs­day as they locked down vis­it­ing Mount Saint Joseph 55-25 in an AACA con­test back in their own gym.

“Com­ing back from the trip, we’d won three games straight in North Carolina so we wanted to come out strong,” Saint Basil se­nior Casey Re­molde said. “It was a big step for us to come back, start with a home game and get the sea­son rolling again. We wanted to start with a win to keep us go­ing.”

Speak­ing of the Pan­thers’ gym, its nar­row width seems like it would be a huge help to a team that wants to play ag­gres­sive de­fense. While it does usu­ally catch op­po­nents for a turnover or two while they ad­just to the con­fined side­lines, the Pan­thers ac­tu­ally think their floor doesn’t of­fer them much help.

Ju­nior guard Kelly Grant ex­plained they’re at least used to it be­cause they prac­tice in there, but this year’s team likes when it plays on wider and more spaced out courts.

Grant, who scored five points, played an in­stru­men­tal role de­fen­sively. While not the big­gest player, Grant brings plenty of fire to her de­fen­sive ef­fort and al­ways seems to have her hands in­volved on a de­flec­tion, steal or a tie-up.

She spent most of her time on the floor check­ing Mount ju­nior Lau­ren Ve­sey, who the Magic run a lot of their of­fense through and helped hold the Mount guard with­out a point.

“I just had to try to keep her in front of me and not let her get all the way to the bas­ket,” Grant said. “We knew who their top play­ers were, so we felt if we guarded them and didn’t let them score, our de­fense would gen­er­ate our of­fense.”

The Pan­thers, who are the top team in the Dis­trict 1-3A power rank­ings at the mo­ment, are yield­ing just 25.4 points per game de­fen­sively fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s win. Casey Re­molde is an ex­cel­lent in­di­vid­ual de­fender, as are a cou­ple of other Pan­thers play­ers but their strength is in their team de­fense.

Early in the fourth quar­ter, Mount’s Tay­lor Sistrunk found her­self fac­ing a mov­ing wall of white jer­seys, with at least three Saint Basil play­ers prevent­ing her from drib­bling any­where but side to side. Sopho­more Shan­non Re­molde noted they want to be phys­i­cal, and some­times may foul a bit too much, but the Pan­thers blend it with quick­ness and length that

break down.

“We’re help­ing out a lot,” Shan­non Re­molde said. “If a player on the other team beats one of us, some­one else will al­ways be there to stop them.”

The Magic, who haven’t found a con­sis­tency on the of­fen­sive end yet this sea­son, saw plenty of that on Thurs­day. Mount (4-5, 3-2 AACA) didn’t get its first points un­til mid­way through the first quar­ter and it seemed like ev­ery screen or cut to try and open up a play was met by a ro­tat­ing Saint Basil helper.

“We got some shots we wanted and didn’t make them, but credit them, their de­fense is really good,” Mount coach Jim Roy­nan said. “They pres­sure the ball, they take away cuts. We have to be bet­ter, when we play a good de­fen­sive team like that, we have to ex­e­cute bet­ter.”

Roy­nan noted the score doesn’t in­di­cate it, but he sees a team al­most daily at prac­tice that plays like it’s on par with Saint Basil or any of the other strong teams the Magic have played so far. The chal­lenge has been trans­plant­ing that ef­fort on the prac­tice floor out into a game sce­nario.

“It al­ways comes down to ex­e­cu­tion,” Roy­nan said. “Basil took a good job of tak­ing things away, so you have to ad­just. I truly be­lieve we’re far bet­ter than we showed to­day, I see it in prac­tice ev­ery day and I see them ex­e­cute fairly of­ten. We have to get them to be­lieve they can do it in a game sit­u­a­tion and again, that comes back on the coaches.”

Saint Basil held the Mount to less than 10 points in ev­ery quar­ter while us­ing a mix­ture of de­fen­sive stops and just solid of­fense to cre­ate their scor­ing. Casey Re­molde led the Pan­thers with 15, Shan­non Re­molde had 14 and De­nae Carter scored 13 points with 21 re­bounds in a bal­anced ef­fort.

The Re­molde sis­ters had things really work­ing in the se­cond quar­ter, com­bin­ing for 15 of the team’s 17 points, with Shan­non as­sist­ing two of Casey’s makes in the frame. Their ef­fort helped Saint Basil take a 30-12 lead at the half.

“We know what the other is think­ing some­times,” Casey Re­molde said. “We make eye con­tact and just know what to do be­cause we’ve been play­ing to­gether for so long.”

This year’s group, which has just two se­niors, al­ready had a good rap­port on the court com­ing into the sea­son, but it got even stronger on their hol­i­day trip.

“We ran our of­fense well and worked to­gether as a team, so we bonded really well while we were down there,” Shan­non Re­molde said. “It was good for the team chem­istry.”

While they’re 10-0, Casey Re­molde noted the Pan­thers have plenty of tough games left and sev­eral of those com­ing away from home. At least they know their de­fense will travel and there’s still a lot of sea­son left, so this group isn’t sat­is­fied yet.

“We’re just work­ing to get bet­ter ev­ery day,” Grant said.

“What we’ve done so far is great, but we want to keep mov­ing for­ward,” Casey Re­molde added. “All we want is to keep ac­com­plish­ing more than we have so far.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mount Saint Joseph’s Grace Niekel­ski looks to pass un­der the pres­sure of Saint Basil’s El­iz­a­beth Deal Jan­uary 3, 2019.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mount’s Grace Niekel­ski goes for a layup as Saint Basil’s Casey Re­molde de­fends Jan­uary 3, 2019.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Saint Basil’s De­nae Carter pulls down an de­fen­sive re­bound at game with the Mount Jan­uary 3, 2019.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Saint Basil’s De­nae Carter bat­tles Tay­lor Sistrunk for a loose ball Mount’s Jan­uary 3, 2019.

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