Jan 18, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Faced with another legitimate threat to its undefeated run Tuesday night at Westhill, the Cazenovia girls basketball team found the zone – defense, that is.
And with that, the Lakers saw an early 11-point deficit t quickly melt away, and by maintaining that defensive presence the rest of the night it managed to earn a 41-32 victory over the Warriors to improve to 10-0 on the season.
This was a rare instance of Cazenovia having its entire lineup healthy and present. By contrast, Westhill had already seen two players (Allie Bush and Paige Rogers) go down for the season with torn ACLs and dressed just eight players on this night.
Despite this, Cazenovia fell behind 20-9 early in the second quarter, victimized by Westhill’s ability to beat man-to-man pressure and, more often, by its own inability to hang on to the ball.
The Lakers found itself unable to cope early with Westhill’s 2-3 zone, as three different times Ashley Cianfriglia stole the ball at the top of the key, turning them into baskets on the other end. Cianfriglia had 13 points in that early run.
But when Cazenovia switched to its own zone, Westhill found itself unable to pass the ball with any efficiency, leading to a rash of turnovers and a drought where, in the second half, it went more than 11 minutes without a field goal.
Head coach Steve Miles said his players made that defensive adjustment on the fly, using their collective experience to work things out.
“Clearly it (the man-to-man) was not working out,” said Miles. “They knew they needed to be more focused, and they have good senior leadership, so they knew how to fix lazy pressure.”
Senior Ashley Stec agreed. “We’re big in the middle,” she said. “That’s why the zone works, and that’s why a lot of teams can’t get the ball in there.”
Led by Stec, Ellen Burr and Raeanne Clabeaux, the Lakers not only forced turnovers, it cooled off Cianfriglia, who after her early surge had just five points the rest of the night. Better yet, the Lakers held Westhill’s other top guard, Anna Ross, to just a single field goal.
Cazenovia closed the gap to 24-23 by halftime, aided by Stec hitting a pair of 3-pointers. Stec had eight of her 15 points in the second quarter as the early deficit vanished.
Then, amid Westhill’s long field goal drought, the Lakers went on a 17-4 run that lasted until the end of the third period. Though Cazenovia cooled off in the late going, the Warriors never got closer than four points (32-28) again. Helping out Stec, Burr and Clabeaux each put up 10 points.
These two teams meet again next Monday at Buckley Gym to make up the snowed-out Dec. 7 opener. Before that, though, Cazenovia will host Bishop Ludden (where Cianfriglia played before transferring to Westhill this year) on Thursday night.
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