one and done
Dighton junior Shambrey Budd finds herself in a sea of arms as she tries to bring down a rebound during Wednesday’s state tournament game against Norwich.
By Rod Haxton, editor
Throughout the season, the secret to Dighton High School’s success has been no secret.
It’s their defense.
They pride themselves in being able to hold opponents well below their scoring average.
Defense helped to carry the Lady Hornets to a berth in the Class 1A-Division II state tournament. It wasn’t enough to get them past the first round where they lost to No. 2-seeded Norwich, 56-35 on Wednesday.
“Even though the girls said they weren’t nervous to start the game, I think it was pretty obvious that our nerves were getting the best of us early on,” says head coach Amy Felker. “There were too many times that we got in a hurry. We tried to do too much, too fast, and then we’d dribble the ball off our foot or something. A lot of that was nerves.”
Even though the Lady Hornets committed just three more turnovers than Norwich - 18 to 15 - many of Dighton’s turnovers came in the first half which cost them scoring opportunities.
It was much the same with rebounding. Norwich held only a 26-21 advantage and actually finished with one less offensive rebound, but many of their second chance opportunities came while they were extending a 13-12 first quarter lead into a 29-16 advantage at the half.
“Norwich is a great rebounding team. Every scouting report I had indicated they were very sound, especially with their ability to rebound,” Felker says. “I think we saw that tonight.”
The Lady Hornets were able to battle through their nerves with six consecutive points early, taking a 6-1 lead on a pair of Kiara Budd free throws with 4:10 on the first quarter clock. Shambrey Budd, who finished with a team high 14 points and seven rebounds, scored Dighton’s final six points of the quarter, including back-to-back baskets that put her team on top, 12-11.
Norwich hit a buzzer-beater which began an 11-0 scoring run that put them in control the remainder of the night.
A pair of Leslie Speer free throws were all that interrupted a 16-2 scoring run for the Lady Eagles. Dighton’s only field goal of the second quarter didn’t come until Diamond Brown’s basket with :59 remaining.
Norwich put the game away with five unanswered points to open the third period, opening a 36-16 lead.
“We were able to stay close with them until we started getting into foul trouble. When Diamond picked up her second foul and we had to bring her out of the game, we didn’t have someone who was capable enough, in that kind of a pressure situation, to run the offense,” Felker says. “Then we had to sit Liz (Heath) down for awhile when she got two fouls. They were able to capitalize on the fact we had some of our younger, more inexperienced, players on the court.”
Felker says they were able to limit Mackenzie Klaver, one of their leading scorers, to just five points. However, junior guard Bailey Poe poured in 20 points, including 2-of-3 treys, while senior Hayley Poljansek added 14 points and 11 boards.
Dighton junior Leslie Speer added 12 points and six rebounds and Brown finished with seven points.
“Give Norwich credit. They wanted it. They had state experience last year and they knew the feeling of losing a first round game. They weren’t going to let that happen again,” says Felker. “Our girls came into the game a little overwhelmed by the experience and it showed.
I think this gives us some added motivation. I told the girls after the game that we have a sound game, we have a good defensive game and we know how to run our offense. The one thing we’re lacking is an outside shooter. If we want to get back here again and get out of the first round we need someone who can fill that role and knock down the outside shot.
That’s our goal this summer, to develop that shooter and keep improving the rest of our game.
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