Zone defense frustrates Borden; Lady Eagles win
In Major League Baseball terms, the Lanesville girls’ basketball team returned home after a successful road trip. Although the road swing was broken up over a few weeks, the Lady Eagles returned home with three wins in five games.
With the momentum, the Lady Eagles knocked off defending Class A Sectional champion Borden, 38-25, Thursday in Lanesville.
The 25 points was the lowest scoring output for Borden this season. Defense was one of the paths leading to the Southern Athletic Conference victory.
‘We played hard defense,’ Lanesville coach Kevin Smith said. ‘I think we frustrated them. I was going to make them shoot the 3. If they were going to beat us, they were going to have to hit the 3. I didn’t want (Abby) Ellis or (Leslie) Beatty hurting us. They are really good underneath. We had to keep Kirchgessner from driving, which was a key.’
To keep with the coach’s wishes, the Lady Eagles were active in a 2-3 zone defense, often collapsing quick when the ball entered the purple paint area.
‘We wanted to keep the ball away from them inside,’ Smith said. ‘Once they got the ball inside, we wanted bodies to get on them. We worked on closing out on shooters when they kicked out. It’s something we work hard on in practice, and it worked.’
An uneventful first half (Borden led 11-10) drastically changed in the third quarter. Emma Bays netted a free throw to draw the game even at 13-13 but also started a break of 14 unanswered Lanesville points.
Jessica DeWeese went to the foul line for four freebies while breaking the Borden press prompted easy buckets for Emma Zeller and Brooklynn Keinsley. Throw in a triple from Mahailey Hall and the flow of the game changed dramatically.
Leading 26-13, Lanesville held Borden to two points in the frame until Shelby Kirchgessner put in a buzzer-beating shot.
Rebounding was an emphasis before the game for Smith and the Lady Eagles, but struggles on the boards in the first half provided a wake-up call for the players.
Zeller closed with eight rebounds, seven coming in the second half to go with her eight points.
‘That was a big key,’ Smith said of rebounding in the later half of the contest. ‘That was a big key I told them before the game. That was the first thing on the board: we have to rebound. We didn’t do that. In the second half, we went after the ball better.’
Borden cut the margin to single digits, 26-19, after a pair of field goals to start the final quarter. Keinsley put a stop to the threat, hitting a trey after Zeller snagged an offensive board. It started a 9-0 run for the Lady Eagles to ice the game.
‘This win helps,’ Smith said. ‘Four wins has matched last year’s total, and 2-0 in conference is a big deal. It shows them they can do it if they play hard. If they don’t play hard, it’s not going to happen.’
Keinsley was the lone player in double figures, tallying 11 points. The senior also had six rebounds. DeWeese did damage at the charity stripe, going 5 of 6 to help reach seven points. Bays added five points, while Caryn Eisert had four.
Kristen Nestor was Borden’s leading scorer with eight points, followed by seven from Natalie Ruedinger.
‘Just like our win against Henryville, it was a total team defensive effort,’ Smith said. ‘We have to work on our press break, though. We’ve struggled with it, but we’ll take it at home, a big conference win, too.’
It was the first win over Borden since the 2007-08 season. Smith said not only were smiles bouncing around the locker room, but he also noticed how tired his players were.
‘This was probably the first time this season the girls were physically tired at the end of a game. That’s a good thing,’ Smith said. ‘We have to go push the tempo, and we did that.’
Lanesville improved to 4-4 overall and 2-0 in the SAC.
The Lady Eagles will get some time off before returning to game action. They will play at Cannelton on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m.