Carlynton girls get defensive to sweep Deer Lakes in Section 3-3A
A red-hot offense sparked Deer Lakes on the three-game winning streak the Lancers carried into their second-place battle with Carlynton on Thursday night.
The shooting that fueled that attack cooled considerably, with a major helping hand from the visiting Cougars’ defense.
Carlynton stymied Deer Lakes’ offense for the final three quarters, helping the Cougars rally for a 36-32 victory in a Section 3-3A game.
“We wanted to limit their 3-point shots, limit their second opportunities,” Carlynton coach Darian Robins said. “I thought the first quarter, we were really getting manhandled on the boards and needed to make a more concerted effort to get that back, so the defensive end was very important for us.”
The Cougars (13-2, 8-2) completed a two-game sweep of Deer Lakes and moved ahead of the Lancers into sole possession of second place in the section. Deer Lakes (12-4, 7-3) slipped into third place, its three-game winning streak snapped.
During that three-game winning streak, Deer Lakes got big-time shooting performances from the perimeter from Abby Buechel, who hit six 3-pointers in one game, and Reese Hasley, who made eight 3s in another.
But although the Lancers got 18 points from Anna Solomon, who hit four 3s, the offense as a whole struggled. The team scored just 18 points after the first quarter and finished with just 11 field goals total, four in the second half.
“Down the stretch and as the game wore on, we were able to adjust and find ourselves with similar opportunities that we have found ourselves in in our offense time and time again, but we rushed,” Deer Lakes coach Dave Petruska said. “We took too much pressure and put it on our shoulders when we went to shoot — easy layups, easy putbacks, easy open shots that we are very used to hitting.”
Jada Lee scored a game-high 20 points to lead Carlynton, which extended its winning streak to five games.
The first meeting between the teams in December ended in a 56-44 Carlynton win, and the pace in the first quarter looked to favor a similar score this time around. Lee hit a pair of 3s for Carlynton, while Solomon had five points for Deer Lakes, helping the Lancers to a 14-11 lead.
The game turned in the second, as players from both teams harassed shooters and played the passing lanes to force turnovers. They combined for 15 turnovers in the second quarter alone; Carlynton finished the game with 26, while Deer Lakes had 20.
“We forced the turnovers, so it was kind of whitewashed for a while,” Robins said. “If we were going to have turnovers ourselves, we had to make sure we created turnovers just to make things even.”
Deer Lakes led until the final minutes of the first half, when a pair of offensive rebounds and putbacks by Haley Williams gave Carlynton a 23-21 lead at the break. The Cougars never trailed after that.
“We executed as best as we could defensively,” Petruska said. “Our game plan was to start the way we normally started, and then we adjusted into a box-and-one or triangle-and-two, and it was something I thought was very, very effective because we got the ball out of their playmakers’ hands and forced other girls into taking shots they’re not used to making.
“But the other issue was there were a couple times we miscued at boxing out, and that allowed them second-chance opportunities, and at times they were easy, open putback opportunities that we were nowhere to be found at. That’s something we definitely want to work on and improve, but overall our defense was pretty great.”
Unfortunately for Deer Lakes, the offense couldn’t match. The Lancers managed just one field goal in the third quarter — a Solomon offensive rebound and putback with under two minutes remaining in the period.
Still, the defense and Solomon helped keep Deer Lakes in the game. The senior twice cut Carlynton’s lead to two points in the fourth quarter, and her long 3-pointer made it a 35-32 game with just over 90 seconds remaining. But her tying attempt with 17 seconds left was off the mark, and Lee made one of two free throws with 12.9 seconds left to seal the game.
“It was a tough drive with the snow and everything like that, and we were off school late last week, so it made it complicated a little bit to get practices in to make sure we were going to be ready for the game,” Robins said. “But they figured out a way to make it work today.”
Solomon scored 10 of Deer Lakes’ 11 points in the second half.
“The mental game, for us, needs to grow,” Petruska said. “We as a team are growing physically, and our ability to be meshed and have chemistry. But mentally is still a place where we’re looking to grow tremendously, especially when we get into these big games that mean something more.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at [email protected] or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.