Focus on defense has Indiana girls in first place in Section 3-AAA
There are times, Indiana junior Lucy Bujdos will admit, when she gets upset on the basketball court.
And it usually leads to good things for the Little Indians.
“If anybody's girl scores, we're upset,” Bujdos said. “But if your own girl scores, you want to make up for it. You want to prove — not only to everyone else, but to yourself — that OK, she scored, but now I have to go score.”
Turning tenacious, man-to-man defense into offense has worked wonders for Indiana, which is sporting a 12-3 overall record, 7-1 in Section 3-AAA after holding Mt. Pleasant 23 points below its season average during a 50-30 win Monday night.
Whether it's rebounding or shifting into a full-court press, Indiana's increased focus on defending has led to a nine-game winning streak, one that has nullified a 3-3 start and has the Little Indians in the section lead by a half game.
“The reason we're getting so much offense is because we're playing such great defense,” senior Kaitlyn Hoff said. “We're only giving teams one shot, then we get the rebound. We're not giving them that second shot.
“We play hard defense and pressure people. They turn over the ball, so we get more steals as well. Defense has been a huge part of our success.”
Indiana is allowing 34.7 points per game, second-best in Class AAA, but that number has dropped to 30.1 points per contest during the winning streak.
Much of that starts up top with Hoff, freshman Jess Stever and the team's best defender, junior guard Abbey Karcher.
“We have three really good defensive guards who can match up with almost any team we go up against,” Indiana coach Dave Woodall said.
Offensively, Bujdos (13.5 points per game), Hoff (13.3) and Stever (11.1) have led the charge. Hoff is dishing out a team-best 2.6 assists per game, while Bujdos is pulling down 10.1 rebounds per game.
At 5-foot-9, Bujdos was a guard from fourth through ninth grade, but her versatility has allowed Woodall to move her all over the floor. Besides averaging a double-double, she's made 17 3-pointers, most on the team.
“Lucy is a matchup nightmare for teams because she's fairly tall, she plays inside, but she's made more 3s than anybody else on our team,” Woodall said. “That creates problems for people who guard her.”
Karcher, the team's top defensive player, has helped out with 2.1 steals per game, and 6-1 center Zoe Zahorchak has been good for 1.9 blocks per game.
Woodall is aiming for his seventh section championship. The Little Indians' next win — the team hosts Allderdice in a nonsection game Thursday — will give Woodall, in his 18th year, 300 for his career.
And if he has his way, the milestone win will come just like many of the others: with defense.
“Our defense has been consistent,” said Woodall, whose team is averaging 36 rebounds, 12 steals and six blocks. “We don't always shoot well. We don't always play well offensively, but I think our team defense is getting better and better every game. That really keeps us in games.”