The white jerseys flew around Callie Walker and her teammates in seemingly endless waves on Tuesday night at Torchy Clark Gymnasium.
Arms. Hands. Feet. It didn’t matter. The Xavier girls’ basketball team used anything and everything to apply intense ball pressure to disrupt the Indians and record a convincing 77-36 Eastern Valley Conference rout.
The Hawks handed Berlin its first loss of the season and forced 24 turnovers and limited the 6-foot-1 Walker to eight points, nearly 10 points under her season average.
The reason for the pressure was simple: Xavier had no intentions of getting into a slow-down half-court game with the bigger Indians.
“That was our fear,” Xavier coach Brian Garvey said. “We talked about having the constant ball pressure. We knew that we couldn’t let them comfortably bring the ball up the court because we don’t have anybody big enough to stop Callie Walker.
“So we had to get them to play a little faster and pressure them so they couldn’t get those looks. Callie’s a great player and I thought we did just an outstanding job on our press.”
Xavier held a precarious 9-7 lead in the first quarter before its defense took control, spurring a 16-0 run to end the quarter.
Lexi Kersten’s two three-pointers were the big bombs that sparked the offense as Xavier led 25-7 heading into the second quarter and 41-19 at the half.
“Coach Garvey really emphasizes the defense,” Kersten said. “We have to box out and be scrappy and I think the defense is what really helped us on that run.”
Xavier also displayed its fine depth, with all 12 players scoring in the game and figuring in the pressure defense.
Peyton Ufi, the Hawks’ gifted sophomore, led the way with 15 points and frustrated the Indians with her ability to force turnovers with her high-octane level of intensity.
“It’s amazing how many times she gets her hands on the he ball with deflections,” Garvey said. “She makes it difficult and disrupts the other team.”
After Walker scored the third quarter’s first three-pointers, the Hawks put the game in rout status with a 15-0 run that saw Xavier’s lead balloon to 56-22. That run was highlighted by six points from Ufi and a three-pointer and layup from Michaela Machurick.
“We talked about (Berlin) being undefeated and you know if we want to meet our goals, we have to take care of business,” Garvey said. “And tonight and I thought the kids were really focused and came out with energy.”
The Hawks’ only loss this season was in triple overtime to Fox Valley Lutheran.
“We definitely want to contend (for the conference title). That’s one of our goals,” Kersten said. “Beating Berlin, an undefeated team is a good win to have to motivate us to beat FVL and beat Little Chute and Freedom. It’s definitely motivating us.”
Berlin: Silloway 8, Stacie Klika 2, Chier 4, Stephanie Klika 1, Walker 8, Koster 5, Trochinski 6, Mueller 2. Totals: 10 14-25 36. Three-pointers: Silloway 2. Fouls 13.
Xavier: Baehler 2, Conley 3, Bovee 10, Karisny 3, Powers 8, Kersten 6, Garvey 6, Machurick 7, Ufi 15, Loken 8, Sobal 4, Parks 3. Totals: 32 8-13 77. Three-pointers: Karisney, Powers, Kersten 2, Machurick. Fouls 23.
Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or email@example.com; on Twitter@PCRicardo