By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
As a majorette, Deanna Comp serves as the glitz and glamour for the Jefferson band. As a guard on the girls basketball team, she serves as the grit and glue of the Falcons’ defense.
“I love that responsibility,” Comp said. “I love defense. It’s my favorite.”
Behind the defense of Comp (a sophomore) and fellow guards Jessica Becker (a sophomore) and Colleen O’Connor (a junior), the Falcons downed Lakeside, 51-25, Saturday afternoon at Lakeside Gymnasium.
The triumvirate combined for 18 steals and keyed a 21-2 run that allowed Jefferson (2-1) to pull away.
“I thought Dee did a great job on their freshman out there,” Jefferson coach Rod Holmes said. “She’s their primary ballhandler and Dee took her away. She did a great job on her. Colleen did a great job on her, too, when she went in for Dee.”
With 5:35 to play in the first half, the Falcons led by just two, 15-13. LeeAnn Farr connected on a free throw and Becker assisted freshman guard Emily Smock, then O’Connor, and Jefferson led, 20-13, at the half.
The Falcons netted the first eight points of the third period, and after Lakeside’s Shelby Smith scored on an assist from Kristin Keasling, tallied eight more to take a 36-15 lead with 1:45 remaining in the third quarter.
“The key there was getting the ball out of their ballhandler’s hands,” Holmes, whose squad earned him his 437th career win, said. “Jess stepped up and made the girl go to her off hand, then took (the ball) away.”
Comp, in having to deny the ball to the Lakeside point guards, led Jefferson with eight steals, Becker had seven and O’Connor added three more.
“I made sure I knew where (the point guard) was all the time on the floor,” Comp said. “I was trying my hardest to stop her from cutting.”
“She moved her feet well and played fast,” Becker said of fellow sophomore Comp.
During that second 8-0 spurt, Becker made a pair of steals and coasted in for layups on consecutive possessions.
“I don’t think of it as a personal thing,” Becker, who led the Falcons with seven assists, said. “It gets the whole team pumped up.
“I feel I’m leading by example. If I make a steal and score, the other girls want to do that, too.”
All told, the Dragons (0-3) turned the ball over 38 times in the contest.
“Guard play; we work on ballhandling a lot,” first-year Lakeside coach Dave Malone said. “Again, we’re particularly young. There’s a big difference from middle school to high school in speed. They’re two guards are quick and the girls need to be able to feel that and maintain their composure.
“We’re young. We’re very young. What I liked about the game was we never gave up. We had points of frustration, but we never gave up. The first part of where we’re going is to never quit.”
Jefferson took a 15-4 lead over the first six minutes of play after Ariann Barile scored on a putback with 1:52 to play in the opening quarter.
The Dragons, however, used strong rebounding and a cold spell from the Falcons to get back in the game, 15-13, with a 9-0 run.
“A basketball game is four quarters,” Malone said. “That’s what we’ve got to have. Our first half tonight is good.”
“We were 2 for 19 in the second quarter,” Holmes said. “Shooting like that will not increase any kind of lead. We were lucky to be ahead when we went in at halftime.”
Balanced scoring was the order of the day for Jefferson.
Barile and LeeAnn Farr each scored 10 points, Sarah Busch added nine and Becker had eight. O’Connor finished with a career-high six points. Farr (11 boards) and Barile (8) combined for 19 rebounds.
Shelby Smith paced the Dragons with eight points and Stephanie Fusco added six. Fusco and Alexis Benedict each had 10 boards.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.