Streaking Lady Trojans remain stingy
The California girls' basketball team held Jefferson-Morgan to 27 points in its Section 3 A home win Thursday.
But it was business as usual for the Lady Trojans (12-3, 6-0), who ran their win streak to six with a 43-27 victory.
“I was very happy with how we played defensively tonight,” California coach Chris Minerd said. “We are holding opponents to an average of 29 points all year. We want to play in-your-face defense, stay between you and the basket and pressure you into making mistakes.
“That's been our philosophy all year, and I think the girls did a good job of that tonight.”
Jefferson-Morgan's Nikki Venick and Ally Bogden entered the contest averaging a combined 25.5 points per game. But the Lady Rockets (7-8, 2-3) were unable to overcome California's stifling defense and the pair combined for only 12 points.
Jefferson-Morgan was held to just four points in the opening eight minutes and single digits in all four quarters.
“Kat Pankratz has been great all year for us defensively,” Minerd said. “She's 5-7 and I can put her on the opponent's best post player and she doesn't give an inch, which really helps to free up Kylie (Huffman), which really helps to make our game go.
“Kat doesn't get a lot of credit because she doesn't score many points, but her contribution tonight, and all season, should definitely not be overlooked.”
California, however, had offensive trouble of its own. Missed layups and poor free throw shooting allowed J-M to hang around, and despite the Lady Rockets' paltry offensive output they were in the game in the fourth quarter.
“All in all, 43 points isn't a bad output,” Minerd said. “But tonight was frustrating, offensively. We want to work towards the highest percentage shot and we did that tonight. But we just didn't make the high percentage shot enough and we let them hang around for too long.”
Huffman and Jenna Miller, a pair of freshmen, led the way offensively for the Lady Trojans with 18 and 10 points, respectively, as eight different players scored.
“Kylie provides the stability for our offense and she finds a way to make a difference even when she is not having her best night,” Minerd said. “Like tonight, her game was a little off, but she went 4-4 from the line in the fourth quarter when (Jefferson-Morgan) were trying to claw back into the game.”
California has only one senior and starts three freshman. Minerd said he digs deep into his roster and uses a large rotation of players so the Lady Trojans don't rely too much on any one player.
“We have so many athletes on this team, so many weapons,” he said. “We had eight girls score points tonight, which is great. Kylie could score 25 a game if she wanted to, but we are better when we focus on spreading the ball out and making them play man on us. That way, you never know who is going to beat you.”
Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.