Strong second half sends Pats over JeepsNovember 2, 2018
By JONATHAN SAXON
DUBOIS — Friday night was the start of basketball season for both the Northeast Dubois and Heritage Hills girls basketball teams. It was plain to see that both squads were working out their nerves and excitement as the players rushed their shots, missed on passes, and worked through mental errors in the first half of play.
However, the collective experience Heritage Hills had shined through in the second half as they focused their efforts on the defensive end as they used their disruptive presence to facilitate their offense. When it was over, the Patriots were able to earn their first win of the season with a 46-15 victory over the Jeeps
“I think defense is our strong point right now,” said Heritage Hills coach Kim Brown. “Offensively we’re not clicking on all cylinders. We’re scoring some points here and there, but not the way we want to. Defensively we’re working together as a team. Our individual effort is outstanding, and we have to pull it all together be able to do it as a team.”
Defense is what characterized most of the game during the first half of play. It took about three minutes in the first quarter before sophomore center Rebekah Gordon was able to get a layup inside for the first points of the game. But Northeast Dubois was quick to answer back courtesy a three-point basket by freshman forward Hadley Fuhrman. But it was tough road to the basket for the remainder of the opening quarter.
The Patriots were able to force errors with heavy ball pressure, but the Jeeps returned the favor by clogging the lane to limit space for touches inside. Gordon was able to get another basket inside and senior forward Claire Heckel was able to nail one from beyond the arc, but the rest of the Pats’ points would come from the free throw line, where sophomore center Nevah Barnett and senior forward Morgan Vaal went 3-of-4. Junior guard Madison Cave was able to connect on another three-pointer to keep things close for Northeast Dubois, but Heritage Hills owned the slight 10-6 edge at the end of the first.
The Patriots would get off on much better footing in the second quarter, starting off with an 8-0 run off the combined efforts of Gordon and junior guard Brianna Quinn to gain control of the game. But the proceedings were still far from perfect, as characterized by one sequence where Pats freshman guard Hadley Lytton was able to secure a steal and initiate the fastbreak. However, Lytton rushed the shot at the other end and put it up too strong for the layup. But despite the miscues, Heritage Hills was able to take an 18-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Soon the gap would be out of arm’s reach for Northeast Dubois. Heritage Hills started the third quarter strong with an 11-2 run, and used their aggressive man-to-man and trap defenses to keep the young Jeeps team off balance and out of sync. The girls for the Jeeps found it difficult to take their defenders off the dribble and constant arms in the air served as a form of air traffic control for the Patriots as they deflected and altered most of the Jeeps passes in the second half.
The barrage kept coming as the Patriots started the fourth with an 11-0 run and eventually settled into their shots on the offensive end. Gordon had 10 of her game-high 23 in the fourth quarter, and the clamps kept Northeast Dubois in check for the rest of the night.
“The first half we were a little edgy, the second half we got it together,” said Gordon “We weren’t rushing as bad, but I think the rebounding and getting settled in were some of the main factors (in the game).”
“Going back and getting an offense running was pretty hard for us,” said Cave, who led the Jeeps with 10 points. “All of us are having a hard time already building those relationships and seeing how people play.”
Jeep head coach Andy Chinn was pleased with the effort he saw from his players in the first half when things were still close, but the girls had a mental lapse in the second half which buried them in a hole they weren’t able to climb out of.
“We took care of the ball, we did the little things and little details in the first half. It was a game going into the second half,” he said. “I thought we worked hard all night but I think mentally we checked out after halftime. Against good teams you can’t do that.”
Despite the loss Chinn still believes that the Jeeps can still come out and surprise people on the court this year, and he is prepared to coach his young team through the growing pains of the basketball season.
“Good things can happen (by) doing the little things that our program stands for,” he said. “If they keep doing that and keep trusting each other on the court, the ceiling is high for this team.”
Brown said she expected her team to come out a bit rushed in the beginning of the game, but was happy to see that her team started to get patient with their shots in the second half. She acknowledged it won’t come over night for the Pats, but that’s just the nature of the sport.
“We were getting rebounds and throwing up putbacks instead of shooting,” she said. “Second half we played a little more patient. Still ugly, but not as ugly. It’s going to be a process.”
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