Defense is a lot about attitude and effort.
The West Holmes Lady Knights showed plenty of both in coming back from a tough overtime loss to Mount Notre Dame.
Game 19 at Classic in the Country Monday, Jan. 18 saw the West Holmes Lady Knights show the large crowd at the Perry Reese Community Center exactly how good defenses lay down the law when it comes to shutting down an opponent.
While the West Holmes versus Notre Dame game proved to be the most exciting contest of the 20-game slate, this one was anything but, and that was just fine with the Lady Knights, who dominated in every facet.
The Lady Knights held Howland to just 11 first half points in dismantling Lady Tigers 50-28 to improve to 14-2 on the year.
While the offense struggled to get going at times, it was Brittleigh Macaulay who would eventually spark the Lady Knights in the second half, pouring in 10 of her game-high 18 points, helping West Holmes quickly expand a 23-11 lead at the half to 33-13.
For West Holmes, this contest was all about the steals. West Holmes recorded 15 steals and created 19 turnovers in making life miserable for Howland. West Holmes also forced Howland’s powerful scoring duo of Victoria Rappach and Sara Price, into a combined 8-of-25 shooting night.
“We knew we needed to defend Rappach and Price, and I thought we did a pretty good job of contesting everything they put up,” said West Holmes coach Lisa Patterson. As for the defensive effort, Patterson continued, “For the most part we did pretty good, but I still think we could do even better.”
Howland’s players and coaching staff might argue that statement, with West Holmes holding them to under 30 percent shooting on the night.
Macaulay scored twice inside early to spot the Lady Knights to a 6-2 edge. Hannah Clark hit a jumper to make it 8-2, and West Holmes was off and running. While Howland was struggling on offense, West Holmes wasn’t exactly shooting it straight either, attributing to its 14-of-33 effort from the floor for a 38 shooting percent on the night.
After a 10-5 first quarter, the Lady Knights got rolling in the second, quickly getting up 18-9 on Natalie Molnar’s driving score and Macaulay’s jumper. That lead grew to 23-9 when Kacie Leppla canned a trey from the corner, and West Holmes led 23-11 at the break.
The third quarter was when Macaulay simply took over on both ends of the floor, and with the help of Hannah Clark, the score was 33-13 with 4:13 to play in the third.
From that point on, it was a matter of whether or not West Holmes could set a Classic in the Country record for fewest points given up in a game (20).
It wasn’t until the 3:34 mark in the fourth quarter that Howland finally inched over that number, on a stick-back from Amber Rodriguez. However, by then the Lady Knights had forged a 43-21 lead, and the game was not anywhere in the vicinity of being close.
Considering West Holmes had played three games in the span of five days, Patterson said her team was dragging by the end of the Howland game, but still found a way to fight through to deliver a top-notch performance.
Even the mighty Lady Knights crowd, normally incredibly boisterous, was fairly subdued during game 19 of CitC.
“We provided probably the most dramatic game Saturday night in our overtime game versus Notre Dame (an overtime loss to one of the state’s finest Div. I programs), so following up that was hard to do as far as entertainment.”
But Patterson and her team were more than happy to make it a little less dramatic, as they went for the throat early in this one and never let off.”
Having lost its opener in CitC, Patterson said it was crucial that her tem bounce back, not just to play well in the second contest, but to get a victory.
“It was really important to get a win,” said Patterson. ‘We are going to learn a lot from Saturday’s game, but you don’t want to come out of here with two losses. You lose two here and the confidence level could become an issue.”
Macaulay put together two monster games over the weekend, and she said getting challenged was the important thing they took away from the weekend’s activities.
“We want to get ready for tournament, so this is always a good challenge for us,” said Macaulay.
Macaulay, who has become one of the finest post defenders in the state, snared nine steals in the two games. Her guard counterpart, Natalie Molnar, was one of the Lady Knights’ minions who harassed Howland guards into all kinds of panic.
“Defense is always going to be there,” said Molnar. “We can always play defense hard against any team.”
Patterson said the team leaves CitC with plenty of things to work on to improve, despite leaving with a stellar 14-32 record.
“You can do all you want in practice, but you can’t create what we just did,” said Patterson of CitC. “You can talk about it and try to simulate it, but until they experience it themselves, it’s not the same.”
Aside from Macaulay’s 18 points, Hannah Clark added 13 and Kaylor Perone and Kacie Leppla both scored five. Clark grabbed eight board to pace the Lady Knights to a nice 36-23 edge on the glass.