Both teams have expert shooters who are threats beyond the three-point arc.
So when Amherst and Avon Lake met Saturday, the Comets girls’ defensive pressure won the 65-57 shootout, forcing turnovers and creating opportunities to score.
Coach Kevin Collins has preached this philosophy from the beginning of the season. At its midpoint, his team sits on a 9-2 and 7-1 Southwestern Conference record.
“Our defense, I think, did a great job,” Collins said. “If we can create turnovers and get looks and control the ball, that’s what we want. We know we’re going to give some points up because of the way we play. If we stay balanced and play good defense, I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Avon Lake scored first. Madison Branch’s basket was followed by a long three from Sarah Lucas. The Comets’ Sydney Roule answered with a three of her own and Jayla Hall tied the score at five with the first of her four hoops of the quarter.
As the period drew to a close with another basket by Roule, the Comets pulled ahead. However, Avon Lake nipped at Amherst’s heels — baskets by Lucas, Sarah Hessel, Bridget Molnar, and a three-pointer by Arianna Negron ended the first period at 16-14.
The Shoregals tied it at 16 at the start of the second quarter. Then the Comet defense went to work, forcing seven turnovers to keep Avon Lake off balance.
Amherst’s shooters jumped at the chance to run up the score. Kamryn Dziak sank a three, Hall made her fifth basket, Audrey McConihe scored from beyond the arc, followed by a pair of threes from Roule. Kate Iliff made the sixth Comets three-pointer of the half for a 35-27 lead that Amherst never relinquished.
Scoring baskets in the second quarter for the Shoregals were Molnar, Grace Dean, and Hessel. Hannah Oehlstrom and Branch each scored from well beyond the three-point line.
The Comets defense didn’t let up in the second half. A full-court press and multiple traps reduced shooting opportunities for the Shoregals, though they did well enough. Lucas had three treys, Branch made four baskets (one a three), Hessel scored twice, and Oehlstrom shot her second three-pointer of the match. Anna Robinson had a basket.
For Amherst, Roule had a pair of treys for 22 game points, Dziak sank a pair inside and a pair outside the arc to total 14. Hall scored twice more for a total of 18 game points and Iliff added two baskets of her own for eight.
The Comets went 11-of-14 from the free-throw line and controlled the backboard with 28 team rebounds to 19 for the Shoregals.
“That’s why we’re so successful,” said Collins. “We have hour girls who can score in double digits, and we’re balanced.”
Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Shooting one in a trio of three-point shots Saturday is sophomore Kamryn Dziak. She had 14 points in the 65-57 win over the Avon Lake Shoregals.