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Strong 2nd quarter propels Estrella past Youngker
Submitted by Casey Pritchard on Wed, 01/11/2017 - 12:00am
Lady Wolves’ defense suffocates Lady Riders in early going
Estrella Foothills girls basketball kicked off 4A Southwest Region play Jan. 3 on a high note, beating Youngker soundly at home.
The Lady Wolves used an intense full-court press to create steals and buckets the other way. The end result was an 83-45 victory.
“I thought we did a real good job, our front girls containing the ball, keeping it in front of them, and then allowing our second line girls to really get in and fill the gaps on the sidelines,” Estrella coach Matt Johnson said. “It forced them to make some errant passes. That’s how we want to press. Sometimes you steal it off the dribble, but we want to be able to create bad passes and step in the passing lane. I was really happy with that.”
The only part of the early going Johnson wasn’t pleased with was his team’s ability to make layups after getting turnovers, he said.
“We’ve got to be able to convert those steals into points a little bit better; I think we missed our first three layups to start the game,” Johnson said. “In closer games, we’re going to need those buckets.”
Estrella’s lead was 17-8 after the first quarter, but swelled to 47-16 at halftime thanks to a 30-8 run in the second quarter.
“We came in with the mindset that we wanted to score at least 70 points and see if they could convert and score that many points as well, and keep pushing the tempo,” Johnson said. “I feel like we’re pretty good at that type of game, especially if we make our layups, because our ball handling has been pretty solid. The tempo is everything we were hoping to create in this game.”
Youngker’s best quarter was the third, where it scored 24 points. That was more than the first, second and fourth quarters combined.
“We’ve been playing that well against really good teams,” Youngker coach Michael Matteson said, referring to the third quarter. “We’ve had some of the best in the state on our schedule. We played [Tucson] Pueblo like that the whole game, Pueblo was just better. We played [Scottsdale] Saguaro that good, they were just better. Tonight, [the Lady Wolves] weren’t as good as those teams, but we didn’t come out the first half and play that way. We came out third quarter and played great, the fourth quarter was a running clock so we kind of ran out of time, but we were on that momentum. I hope the girls keep that in mind and keep that momentum for the next time we see them, because region means we get to play them again.”
Youngker was led by DaQwazjha Lee, who had 17 points. Most of those came in the third quarter.
Estrella had four different players score in double figures, led by 19 from Emma Farnham. She went 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
“Emma had started the season in a slump shooting, and we kind of expected her, going into the season, to be our go-to perimeter shooter,” Johnson said. “But it allowed us to move Zyaire [Brown] out to the perimeter a little bit. She was kind of our go-to shooter, and now Emma stepped up in [a tournament in] California and started hitting, so now we feel like we have a coupe of them that can shoot.”
Brown and Myia Wilkins each added 14 points, and Maya Huston scored 11. She made all three of her 3-point attempts.
“Maya Huston is a solid shooter off the bench,” Johnson said. “We feel like we can have depth in shooting, because our percentages have been way low this year, and it’s frustrating because we have girls capable of doing it, and we’re kind of waiting for the lid to come off and they start knocking them down. We hit some of our perimeter shots tonight, which allowed us to get into our press and put Youngker on their heels.”
Despite a strong win against Youngker, the Lady Wolves lost big to Buckeye Jan. 5, 70-35. Estrella picks up its region schedule at 7 p.m. Thursday, hosting Yuma.
“We have an eight-game season for the region,” Johnson said. “With only 16 teams making [state playoffs], it’s tough. We’re going to have to at least win six games in our region. We also play Flagstaff, Saguaro and Casa Grande. If you beat one of them and go 6-2, you’re going to have a good shot at making the playoffs. If you go below that, you’re probably going to be going home.”
Youngker followed up its loss to Estrella by dropping games Jan. 5 against Yuma Gila Ridge, 53-46, and Jan. 6 to Chandler Seton Catholic, 66-22. The Lady Roughriders played Buckeye Tuesday night, the result was unavailable at press time, and host Phoenix St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“Consistency is a big part of what we’re dealing with,” Matteson said. “We play up to good teams and we play down to the not great teams, and show we’re not as good as them. That’s not great.
“I feel like first half of the season, we played some of the best in the state. If we play at that level, we can do well in our region and make the playoffs.”
Casey Pritchard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or on Twitter @CaseyonSports.
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