PRINCETON-- Teams will have off shooting nights. That happens over the course of a long high school basketball season. What coaches hope, is that defense never takes a night off.
It sure didn't for Princeton girls basketball Tuesday, as they suffocated Southridge, winning in the home opener 43-25. The win comes after a season opening loss at South Spencer.
"I thought that we just really tied up some loose ends and paid attention to details. Our effort was much better tonight than it was on Saturday," Princeton Community coach Brittany Maners said.
The guard trio of Hannah Sisk, Avery Jones-Taylor and Reaghan Page led the Lady Tigers, and Sisk got things going early in the opening quarter. She poured in ten points in the frame, to go along with three from Page and one from Jones-Taylor, to give Princeton a 14-9 lead after one.
Come the second and third quarters, the defense really began to take over the game for Princeton. Southridge was held to just six points over the next 16 minutes, which ultimately turned the game in the Lady Tigers favor for good.
"I think it goes back to our intensity. We prepared yesterday for how we wanted to defend those ball screens and try to push them out wide. We committed some silly fouls I think doing so, but it really pushed them out and kept them from getting in the paint," Maners said. "I was really proud of our execution when it came to that."
Princeton led 22-13 at the half, and after holding the Lady Raiders to just two free throws in the third quarter, pushed that advantage to 29-15.
Southridge upped the pressure in the fourth quarter, pressing full-court and trying to create turnovers. Maners knows her team can handle that, given how much confidence she has in the three guards that have carried Princeton offensively through the first two games.
"Just how good offensively those three guards were tonight, I thought it was very balanced as far as what they brought to the table," Maners said.
The other point of emphasis for Princeton in practice was rebounding, as they struggled to keep a bigger South Spencer team off the offensive glass. Southridge was also the bigger team, but the Lady Tigers team effort in clearing the boards was something Maners was pleased with.
"That's where I was really pleased with our effort tonight as opposed to Saturday. I thought we had at least four if not all five of them crashing the boards and blocking out and wanting the ball. That was the thing on Saturday I didn't think we wanted the ball. We were much more aggressive rebounding tonight," Maners said.
Sisk had seven fourth quarter points to push her total to 22 for the night, leading all scorers. Jones-Taylor finished with nine, while Page chipped in five and forwards Emma Sartore and Cortney Dove had three apiece. Leading the way for the Lady Raiders was freshman forward Myah Montgomery who had 15 points. Senior guard Mady Neukam pitched in five.
Perhaps the final difference between the first two games for Princeton was the environment, as playing at home seemed to spark the energy.
"Tiger Arena fits us a lot better than some of the places we play at on the road. I think that helps, the girls were a little nervous I think. But to have our fans and be at our arena in Princeton is awesome for us."