Defense never takes a night off.
That basketball axiom was evident Wednesday night when Hagerstown’s Tigers played Seton Catholic for the first time in girls basketball.
Limiting Seton to just one first-half field goal, the Tigers established a double-digit lead and beat the Cardinals 54-28.
Thus, Hagerstown moved to 1-1. The Cards fell to 0-2.
But the story of the night was defense, and on a night Hayley Rogers was beset by foul trouble, the emergence of three underclassmen offensively for the Tigers.
Sophomore point guard Gabby Willis had a game-high 19 points for Hagerstown, and classmate Savannah Houck had five two-point fielders in the third quarter, as Hagerstown doubled up Seton 40-20.
Junior Tawni Brown added five points in the fourth and contributed an unofficial seven rebounds.
All of which pleased Tiger coach Chris Oliger.
“When your best player goes out, some other people need to step up and do some things, and I thought all of the team did a really good job of that,” Oliger said. “Savannah and Gabby played a real good second half, and Gabby stepped up and played well on defense as well, since Hayley is normally our defensive stopped. Gabby played well against number 11 (Seton’s Megan Schroeder) and contained her offense well.”
The sophomore Schroeder had nine points for Seton, but was held without a field goal in the first half as the Tigers led 22-9 at intermission.
The Tigers scored nine straight points to start the second period and were leading 20-7 when Rogers departed with her third foul at the 5:07 mark. The senior scoring leader already had nine points.
And although the Tigers could manage just two points the rest of the half, Seton could manage just two charity tosses from Schroeder.
Rogers returned to start the second half and did not score before a fourth foul sent her back to the sidelines until late in the fourth quarter.
No matter, Willis, Houck and others compiled 32 points in the second half.
Seton’s second-half offense was keyed by senior Abby Dargie, who added four second-half treys to one in the first quarter to finish with a team-high 16 points.
“We didn’t do the things you have to do, like boxing out, and they (Hagerstown) attacked the basket,” said Seton second-year head coach Brandy Wells. “We didn’t have the aggressiveness you need to have. When you have it, like Hagerstown tonight, you score 54 points. We are not used to giving up that many points. A lesson learned tonight.”
Willis said she was just trying to do what coach Oliger has asked her to do.
“I know the coach wants me to shoot when I have an open shot, so I try to just go out there and do that,” Willis said. “For this season, I want to have fewer turnovers, be stronger with the ball, and get more rebounds.”
Hagerstown hosts Monroe Central on Friday night and Daleville on Saturday. Seton plays 6 p.m. Monday at Northeastern.