By ERIC FORTUNE
For the Star Beacon
To say Pymatuning Valley’s defense was tenacious is probably an understatement.
It limited the LaBrae Vikings into 12 first half points, 18 turnovers, and held the Vikings to 11 field goal attempts en route to 69-42 victory.
“Always,” LaBrae coach Lisa Aldridge said in response to the Lakers’ defense. “They always are. They’re always aggressive. We came out and just had some bad passes early. They played a good defensive game. We tried to prepare for that but sometimes you can’t prepare for those things.”
Pymatuning Valley coach Jeff Compan felt his squad could exploit some of LaBrae’s shortcomings because of the Vikings (8-8, 2-5) having played a game on Saturday and because of some depth issues.
“I thought the first quarter, it was up-and-down,” he said. “We thought in the second quarter, we started to anticipate their passes and where they were breaking our press.”
Kelsea Brown (22 points) and Heather Brant (16 points) led the Lakers (16-2, 8-2) in scoring but were just as effective on the defensive end as they combined for 18 of Pymatuning Valley’s 29 steals as a team.
“We pride ourself on the ability to force turnovers and force quick shots,” Compan said. “At the beginning, we did a really nice job of forcing them into bad passes and quick shots.
“On the flip side, we weren’t very sharp turning them into hoops. We had a couple bad possessions where we were 2-on-1, 3-on-1 and didn’t get shots.”
The Lakers had no issues with getting off quality shot attempts, but were just at 48 percent shooting in the first half at 13 of 27 from the field.
“We really talked about that at half,” Compan said. “We came out in the second half defensively and were horrible. Then we kind of buckled back down and got some easy hoops, which is the key to our success.”
Ahead 30-12 at the break, the game seemed to be very much in hand, but the Vikings made it interesting if just for a bit going on a 10-4 run to close the gap at 34-22 before Geena Gabriel’s bucket woke the Lakers up and turned the game back into much of what the first half was with a 19-7 run to close the quarter and put the Lakers firmly in control, 53-22 at the end of three.
“We were in a zone in the first half,” Aldridge said. “We went to man-to-man in the third quarter and I think the difference in defense maybe set them back a little bit. Offensively, we could never get into the flow of things. Their defense didn’t allow us to get into any offensive sets.
“They were a better team tonight.”
Fortune is a freelance writer from McDonald.