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How the Titans used the defense to help them get their groove back

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bb scc mcki 20-02-04

South Central Calhoun senior Emma McKinney dribbles around a Southeast Valley defender during the second half of a Feb. 4 basketball game played in Rockwell City.

ROCKWELL CITY: Since January 10 things hadn’t been the same. In an effort to grab some momentum the girls basketball team at South Central Calhoun dug up some nostalgia.

For over two decades the South Central Calhoun girls basketball team has been known for their defense. On Tuesday night the Titans brought back a fierce defense in a 58-36 victory.

Since Jan. 10 the Titans had won just three games, while dropping four, three of the four games were by less than 10 points.

“We’ve had some struggles the last couple of weeks,” said Eric Francis. “We had a couple losses that we weren’t able to overcome late there. Poky and Newell-Fonda were a couple tough games for us. It was nice to see the girls come out in the first quarter especially and get us out to a nice lead.”

After sinking a quick shot to start the game the South Central Calhoun girls went straight to work on defense.

Which is exactly what Francis, and the Titan girls needed to do.

“We got that first shot to fall down and we were able to get into that full court pressure right away,” Francis remembered about the opening minutes of Tuesday’s win over Southeast Valley. “They enjoy doing that and playing a little aggressive and physical. We were able to force a couple of turnovers and get some easy baskets.”

Within a few moments the Titans ability to play suffocating defense was paying off. The Jaguars had hardly made it past halfcourt without turning the ball over. That fed the Titans with shot after shot that was wide open.

Less than two minutes had fallen off the clock and the Titans had grown their lead to seven points. Southeast Valley, panicked and rushed, had no other choice, but to take a timeout. Which continued to play right in the lap of the South Central Calhoun.

“We were able to force an early timeout, and apply that pressure,” Francis said. “It is a lot more fun when the shots are falling and that kind of fed to the rest of the team as well.”

After gaining an 11-point lead the Titans were able to dial the defense back just a little bit. Southeast Valley was never able to get in a grove.

In the first half the South Central Calhoun team scored 37 points in the first half, while holding the Jaguars to 20.

“It is always nice to get the defense working really early,” Francis said. “Our focal point has always been defense going into any game. We want to focus on trying to keep the opposing team from scoring 40.

“Our backbone is our defense, if we aren’t playing good defense then our offense starts to slack off a little bit. It was good to see the defense get going right away.”

The defense worked well for the Titans in the second half as they limited Southeast Valley to just 16 points.

The lack of strong defense has been part of the reason why the Titans hadn’t been able to right the ship during their nearly month-long stretch of games between Jan. 14 and Tuesday night.

The Titans have just two games remaining in the regular season, and both seem winnable, after all, the Titans bested both Manson Northwest Webster and East Sac County earlier in the year.

It was a big night offensively for the Titans as well on Tuesday.

Leading the scoring effort was freshman Kylee Schleisman who finished the game with 20 points. That included her going 8-for-10 from the field along with three three-pointers. Another freshman, Riley Batta, finished with 19 points.

Brielle Korleski added nine points in the contest. Sayer Steig finished with four points. Both Emma McKinney and Addisyn Korleski had two points. Sally Musselman and Jade Ridgely both had one point each.

Overall the Titans stand at 13-6 this season.

One way the Titans can build momentum, and forget the woes of the last month is to continue to do what has made SCC (and Rockwell City-Lytton before the merger) successful for years: strong defense.

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