With her team trailing Dublin Jerome 26-20 at halftime on Jan. 17, Hilliard Bradley High School girls basketball coach Kathy Lindsey implored her players to get back to the defensive principles that helped them win eight of their first nine games.
The Jaguars responded by limiting the visiting Celtics to 10 points in the second half and rallying for a 46-36 victory to improve to 11-4 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. They also avenged a 41-34 loss at Jerome six days earlier.
"We didn't play with the defensive intensity we needed to play with in the first half," Lindsey said. "We're not a team that's going to win high-scoring games, so we have to rely on our defense.
"In the loss to Jerome, their multiple defenses stopped us and we didn't shoot well from the perimeter and had trouble getting the ball inside. We worked all week on shooting to prepare for (the rematch), but we went out and didn't play good defense in the first half."
The Jaguars trailed Jerome 32-29 after three quarters in the rematch but scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter and outscored the Celtics 17-4 in the final period.
"We used three different presses and were able to get into some passing lanes in the full-court and half-court defense," Lindsey said. "We had all five girls playing inspired defense in the second half."
Meredith Miller scored seven of her team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. Ashley Hummel added nine points and Shelby Haworth scored eight for the Jaguars, who had lost three of their previous five games.
"We hit a little rough patch (in the schedule)," senior guard Christy Tieman said. "We played those five games in nine days, but we had a break and about a week to prepare for (the second game against Jerome).
"I think we've been relying on our post players to do too much. The guards have to start making some outside shots to open things up. We can't force the ball inside and, when we can get the ball in, we have to be prepared to shoot it when we go to our inside-out game."
Through 15 games, the Jaguars had allowed an average of 37.3 points per game and were 2-4 in contests in which their opponent scored 40 or more points. In their four losses, their opponents averaged 48.5 points.
"Our defense is what gives us an advantage, so we have to continue to play strong defense, hound the ball and get in passing lanes," Lindsey said.
"It's as simple as that -- playing strong defense and applying proper defensive principles."
Wildcats fall short against Coffman
If not for a slow start, Davidson might have pulled off a major upset against Dublin Coffman on Jan. 17.
The host Wildcats were outscored 17-8 in the first quarter -- but outscored only 37-36 over the final three quarters -- of a 54-44 loss, which dropped them to 1-15 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Central. The Shamrocks, who had beaten Davidson 65-32 on Dec. 11, were 10-6 overall before playing Jerome on Jan. 21 and are 7-2 in the league.
Hannah Fecht led the Wildcats with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Lea Edler had nine points and Davawnna Clark and Maddie Oakley both scored eight.
Schedule keeping Panthers busy
Darby entered the week still searching for its first win.
The Panthers were 0-15 overall before playing Marion Pleasant on Jan. 22 and are 0-9 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Darby is in the midst of a busy portion of its schedule. Including the contest against Pleasant, it is playing four games in a seven-day stretch.
The Panthers travel to Jerome on Friday, Jan. 24, for a league game.
They then will play host to Davidson on Saturday, Jan. 25, before returning to league play Tuesday, Jan. 28, at Canal Winchester.
Darby lost to Jerome 49-39 on Dec. 13 and lost to Canal Winchester 53-37 on Dec. 17.
The Panthers went 0-2 last week, falling to Jonathan Alder 53-38 on Jan. 14 and Westerville North 60-25 in a league game Jan. 17.
Caitlin Snyder led Darby in both games, scoring 14 points against Jonathan Alder and 10 against North. Erika Boyd added eight points against North.