Coach Kevin Collins said last week he wanted his shooters to step up their defensive game and lessen the Lady Comets’ reliance on scoring baskets.
Amherst played that way Saturday, winning 49-39 over the Berea-Midpark Titans, one of the best scoring teams in the Southwestern Conference.
Collins called the performance “the best defense we’ve played all year. We told the girls that if they can play with that intensity, we’re going to be hard to beat.”
“We scrambled. We played hard the entire game. We got deflections which got us set up for layups,” he said. “We didn’t have to rely on making a ton of threes or scoring every time because our defense led the way.”
The Titans managed only one goal beyond the arc. Amherst forced Berea-Midpark to drive inside, where traffic made rebounding difficult.
Of course, the Comets still needed baskets to win.
The first quarter was slow as the teams jockeyed to set the pace of the game. A 7-6 Amherst lead came from Jayla Hall in the paint with a pair and a three point shot by Kate Iliff. The Titans’ Miranda Otero sank two and Kayla Gudel had one.
By the midpoint of the second quarter, Amherst was eight points up. While the defense held Otero and Gudel to the same scoring as the first quarter, Kamryn Dziak hit twice from the court and the foul line, Sydney Roule shot one and Iliff made her second trey. Tory Small tipped in both of her foul shots to put the Comets ahead 20-12 at the half.
When the game continued after the break, the Titans made it clear they were not ready to concede defeat. Shooters Mya Johnson, Jasmine Kinsey, and Lexie Scarton went into action. Johnson scored twice, once for three. Kinsey, Scarton, and Otero each sank one.
Amherst held on with baskets by Hall and Roule and with trey number three for Iliff. The 27-23 third quarter score was as close as the Titans would get for the remainder of the match.
Though Otero and Kinsey made baskets as Scarton scored twice in the fourth, once from outside the arc, it was not enough. Amherst’s defense kept the pressure up until the final buzzer.
Comets shooters Iliff and Hall each got another basket, while Roule sank two, one beyond the arc. Adding to her total was Dziak with a three-pointer. Icing on the cake was provided by Hall, who went three of four from the free throw line, and Roule, who made seven of eight.
Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Junior Kate Iliff works her way around the three point arc on Saturday against the defense of Kelsi Miske. Iliff scored three treys in her 11 point game in the 49-39 Comets win.