In what has been a frustrating four-game slide for the Westminster ladies basketball team over the last two weeks, a new and improved zone defensive scheme led the Lady Wolves to victory Jan. 24 over …
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In what has been a frustrating four-game slide for the Westminster ladies basketball team over the last two weeks, a new and improved zone defensive scheme led the Lady Wolves to victory Jan. 24 over rival Thornton, 50-38.
The tone was set early for Westy (6-10, 2-3 in conference), as the 2-1-2 suffocating zone forced the Lady Trojans to just five first-quarter points. Averaging 51 points per game over their previous three-game winning streak, the Lady Trojans never found their offensive groove.
However, despite the five-point opening quarter, Thornton’s zone attack also made life difficult for Westy, as the home team scored only eight; four of which from senior Norma Diaz. After tying the game at eight on the opening possession of the second quarter, Thornton sophomore Yazmeen Reyes’ three-pointer presented the only tie of the night. Holding down the lead the rest of the way, the Lady Wolves showcased their full potential, led by their defensive tenacity.
“Our defense was unbelievable,” Westminster coach Jeff Dennis said with an enormous smile. “That was a new defense that we picked up, so after playing a lot of the season under man (man-to-man defense) and watching film, I was like you know what, we have to make an adjustment. So, I did some research, I looked at an aggressive 2-1-2 trap, and we just went at it. That’s what won us the game tonight. Offense meant nothing, we won that game on defense, and I’m so proud of the girls.”
Leading the top of the zone, forcing turnovers and disrupting the flow of Thornton’s leading scorers junior Shamahra Henderson and sophomore Monique Delatorre, senior Jaylyn Valencia and junior Jada Parsons had their way. Only scoring eight points between the two, Westy’s athletic duo pushed Thornton to an uncomfortable pace throughout on the other end of the floor.
Scoring 20 points at the half and leading by five, offensively, Westminster followed the lead of Diaz and junior Valerie Gallegos, who scored eight and 10 respectively. Finally, despite Thornton hanging around through two quarters, the Lady Wolves made their run in the third.
Not allowing a point the first four minutes and 40 seconds of the second half, Westminster clamped down once again on Thornton, giving up four points in the frame. Leading 31-19 heading to the fourth after a three-point buzzer beater from freshman Marina Boltz, the momentum on the Lady Wolves’ side would prove too much to overcome.
Thornton eventually got things rolling in the fourth, as Henderson and Delatorre scored nine and seven each, leading the Lady Trojans to a night-high 19-point quarter. Answering with their own tandem of scoring threats, Diaz and Gallegos returned the favor with six and five points apiece to counter with a 19-point Westy quarter to gather their second conference win in five tries. As Gallegos and Diaz led Westminster with 17 and 14 points each, Dennis was even more pleased with the passing from his offense as a whole.
“What impressed me the most offensively tonight was the ball movement. I always preach to the girls create spacing and time for your teammates, and I thought both of them (Gallegos and Diaz) did that beautifully.”
As 29 of Thornton’s 39 points were scored by Henderson (16) and Delatorre (13), Westy did a phenomenal job of eliminating easy shots for a quality Lady Trojans’ team (10-6, 3-2 in conference). Desperate for a win, Westy may have found the blueprint for success moving forward with the victory.
“You have no idea. I am so happy right now,” Dennis said. “I’m so proud of these girls, and we needed this win badly.”
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