Though there was a definitive difference in defensive intensity from Friday to Saturday night, the Ketchikan Kings were still able to defeat the Thunder Mountain girls' basketball team 52-14 to earn the season sweep over the Falcons.
The Falcons' (0-17, 0-6) defense disrupted the Kings' (18-3, 5-1) offensive attack, forcing them into uncharacteristic mistakes. With the game much closer than Friday night's affair, Ketchikan was forced to play their starters into the fourth quarter, something they did not have to do the previous night.
As the Falcons picked up the pressure, so did the Kings. Ketchikan forced 39 Thunder Mountain turnovers and limited the Falcons to 34 shots.
Kings senior forward Crystal Blair, who was held scoreless on Friday, led Ketchikan with 19 points, with most buckets coming inside the paint against the Falcons' front line. Ciara Patton was the Kings' second leading scorer with eight points on the night.
With the Falcons' offense not clicking on Saturday night, they turned to defense and rebounding. Sophomore forward Shale Kibby led all players with 13 rebounds, eight coming on the offensive glass.
Junior forward Janie White said the team's intensity was different Saturday.
"Our intensity was up and we had more confidence this time," she said. "We just clicked more and hustled the whole time."
She said the team learns a lot from one night to the next. In this case, White said the team knew it needed to hustle more.
"I think we need to look back on this game and know that we kept their starters in most of the time because they were afraid to take them out," she said. "I think we need to be positive about that."
Coach Tanya Nizich said the team played better in the first half on Saturday than it did in the first half Friday, but in the end, turnovers caused problems.
"In the first half, we had seven turnovers compared to 15 first-half turnovers (Friday), but 14 of their first-half points came off our seven turnovers. So having 15 (Friday) night in the first half is just a killer," she said. "The whole goal tonight was just to hustle - more than anything - defense and offense will come if you hustle."
She said even though the team is struggling, they show progress from game to game. And while it is a long process, good things will come in the future if it continues to learn from its mistakes.
The Falcons will be back in action at Lathrop on Thursday.
Falcons make late push
The Thunder Mountain girls' basketball team had a difficult night at home Friday in its 65-24 loss to the Ketchikan Kings, one of the state's best teams.
The Kings took a 46-8 lead heading into halftime, a margin obtained mainly by converting Falcon turnovers into easy fast-break layups. Ketchikan had three players reach double figures as Ciara Patton scored 15 points, 12 of which came in the deciding 23-5 first quarter. Shelayne Greaves pitched in 13 points while Alexis Edwardson contributed 10 for the Kings.
The Falcons began playing with confidence in the second half as they doubled their first-half output with 16 points in the final two periods.
Thunder Mountain forward Jonelle Staveland caught fire as she racked up 11 of her 13 points in the second half.
"We got more intense and wanted to catch the score up," Staveland said. "We shot more shots and when we had a turnover we didn't hang our head, we hustled back and played good (defense)."
The team's intensity on both ends in the second half was noticeable as the Falcons forced several Kings turnovers and held Ketchikan's reserves to only three points in the fourth quarter.
"I think it was just getting our hands up on defense and talking with each other. I think we really wanted to catch up and not lose by like 60," Staveland said. "We learned that we could catch up. We were down by a lot and we started making our shots.
"I think as the years go by, we're going to get the hang of it and start winning."
Head coach Tanya Nizich said the team is still learning to be consistent by putting together four good quarters.
"I think we're all a bit disappointed in the effort we put forth in the first half," she said. "It's funny how a trigger can switch and they go out like they did in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter.
"Those are the little bugs we're trying to figure out - what works right off the bat. We're going to get there."
Nizich said she told her girls to keep playing hard during a half-time speech, even though the team was down 38 points.
"At this point, what do we have to lose, you know? Just go out there and show them what you've got no matter the score - don't even look at the scoreboard," she said. "They scrimmage against people in practice with no scoreboard and it's a lot different. I think sometimes they hang their heads a little more when they see the score, but when you turn off the power they're diving on the floor and getting after it.
"It's just trying to figure out what's going to work and what kind of gameplan we need to start out with. It's all a big learning experience for everybody."
Nizich also said playing against a good team like Ketchikan is a valuable learning experience because, despite the score, the team is learning and picking up on the things they do well.
Matthew Tynan can be reached at email@example.com.
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