Defense is key to success, failure for Medical Lake girls
Medical Lake defenders Emily Bonsant (22) and Maleeka Wegner (20) work to stop Newport's Holly Malsbury during last Friday's 44-39 win over the Grizzlies.
If there appeared to be a common thread that wove its way through last week's games for Medical Lake's girl's basketball team it would be defense.
When the Cardinals won as they did 44-39 at home against Newport they played great D. When they lost, as happened last Tuesday 59-30 at Freeman or Saturday to Lakeside 57-16 in Suncrest, getting stops was the game changer.
"We had too many defensive breakdowns, gave them too many open shots and let them beat us down the court on the break," Medical Lake head coach Carey Schwarzer said of the Freeman game in which the Scotties jumped to a 17-4 first-quarter lead and never looked back. "I thought we fought for 32 minutes," Schwarzer added.
Cassidy Hagel's 14 points led Medical Lake (2-3, 4-7), the only Cardinal in double-figures, but lost opportunities were costly. "On offense we just missed a ton of lay-ups," Schwarzer said. "It would have at least made the game closer."
While Hagel stood out with her 22 points, Schwarzer was equally impressed with the team play her girls exhibited." "It was just a great team game," she said.
Medical Lake earned its final margin in the first half where the Cards led 23-18 at the break. The teams were even over the final 16 minutes.
"We executed our game plan and stopped who we needed to on defense," Schwarzer said.
After Newport (2-3, 9-3) tied the game at 39-39 with 1 minute, 47 seconds to play, some heroics from Hagel and Hailey Cheevers helped deliver the victory. Hagel was fouled with 38.6 seconds to play and made a tiebreaking free throw. On the ensuing possession she stole the ball and scored on a layup for a 42-39, one-possession lead.
Newport missed a pair of foul shots with 8.4 seconds where Cheevers grabbed the rebound and was fouled. While she missed the foul shots Cheevers got the rebound off the second miss and scored on a layup that sealed it.
"It got close at the end and I was proud of how the girls found a way to win," Schwarzer said.
Offense stayed behind Saturday, except for the 10 points from Maleeka Wegner. "We played with them for a quarter and right up until the end of the quarter it was 8-8," Schwarzer said. "Every time we missed an assignment on defense they made us pay for it."
"Lakeside is a great defensive team and we tried to play their game," Schwarzer said. "We were playing a little faster than we are comfortable with and it forced us to play out of our comfort zone. They just forced us into a lot of turnovers." The Eagles (4-0, 11-1) forced the Cardinals into 33 turnovers and got 19 points from Jocelyn Cook-Cox in the win.
Medical Lake will face Cheney (2-7) Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in a nonleague contest hoping to collect its first game win since the teams began their Spirit competition, now in its fourth year.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.