Girls use strong defense to top Northampton
Without a go-to scorer this year, the Parkland girls are focusing on two things - defense and the transition game.
Both worked to their advantage Tuesday night against Northampton as the Trojans coasted to a 40-21 win to move them to 2-1 on the season.
"We go into lulls in the halfcourt game," head coach Wes Spence said. "We don't have a dominant player we look to or run sets for. So I think if we can get the floor spread and get into transition it give us a better chance to get girls open."
Against the K-Kids, Spence employed a pressing defense that forced 19 turnovers and led to several easy baskets. It helped break open the game in the first quarter, and the Trojans never looked back.
Leading 8-6 midway through the first, Parkland connected on four straight baskets, two coming off of steals in the backcourt. The Trojans shot 8-for-14 in the first, scoring 16 points. It was the only double digit quarter for either team in the game.
Sierra Derti started the run with a jumper off a pass from Allison Cressman. A minute later, Erica Bross added a jumper of her own, follwed by Derti scoring in transition and then a nice pump fake and basket by Hannah Gombos. The four buckets came in a two-minute span, and like that, the Trojans had a 10-point lead.
It was one they would not relinquish thanks to suffocating defense.
Northampton point guard Leandra Sterner, the K-Kids' biggest threat, drove and scored with 21 seconds left in the first quarter to make it 16-8 after one. It was the last field goal for Northampton (0-4) until just under a minute left in the third quarter, a span of 15:30 in which the Kids were 0-for-14 during that span.
"That's what we have to do," Spence said. "We're not offensively gifted so we're going to hang our hat on the defensive end and try to create the kind of game we want by playing good defense. I thought we did a nice job on defense against Leandra Sterner. She's a very good player and we tried to make her the focus."
Sterner finished tied for a team-high with just six points on 1-of-12 shooting. She was 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
While the Trojans didn't have a breakout offensive performer, Derti (six of nine points in the first quarter) and Cressman (six of team-high 10 in the third) took over the scoring load for stretches. Cressman's game was encouraging as it helped her break out of an early-season slump.
The senior point guard eased her way into the game and got teammates involved with three assists in the first. She flashed her offensive game in the third with three baskets. She started by scoring in transition and then showed a nifty spinning hook shot and ended the Parkland scoring in the quarter with a fast break runner.
"That was really good to see because she's been struggling a little bit shooting the ball the first couple of games," Spence said. "She's a really positive player and it was nice to see her come through tonight. It really helped us out, especially in that third quarter."
Cressman finished with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, dished out four assists, had three rebounds and a steal. Derti added seven rebounds, including two on the offensive end, to go along with her nine points and Gombos shot 4-for-6 to score eight points and also added three steals.