Vandebilt Catholic coach Kathy Luke was shocked that the Huntington Lady Raiders attacked her team with a man-to-man defense to start Thursday’s LHSAA regional Class 4A state playoff contest.
That played right into the hands of the Lady Terriers, who rolled to an 74-57 win in front of an often raucous crowd in the Huntington gym. Vandebilt (27-4) responded to the Lady Raiders’ defense with a highly efficient motion offense that left them open on play after play.
“We had seen films from two of their games and they used a zone almost exclusively in both those games, so that’s what we prepared for,” Luke said. “We like to run our motion stuff, but we didn’t work on it much this week.”
The Terriers’ defense was just as deadly as their offense, especially in the second quarter, when they got all the distance they needed from coach Danielle Butler’s club. Vandebilt’s Cassidy Barrios, Jewel Triggs and Shakira Harding harassed the Lady Raiders into 10 turnovers in that frame and pushed their lead to 15 points.
Huntington (18-11) would trim the deficit to just 7 points late in the third quarter, but the visitors turned them away.
“They shoot the ball too well to play them in a zone. We couldn’t afford that,” Butler said. “They are a very active bunch, so we knew we couldn’t sit back and let them take it to us.”
Harding (18 points) said the plan coming in was to take fight to Huntington’s twin towers of senior Khadijah West and sophomore Caitlin Jenkins.
“We played a team in the first round that had a big post player, so that was kind of a warmup for this one,” Harding said. “We worked mostly on attacking a zone in practice all week, so I thought we did a pretty good job adjusting to how they defensed us.”
The loss overshadowed a big night for Jenkins, who pumped in a game-high 33 points and blocked a half-dozen shots. But West was largely a non-factor, scoring six points and fouling out with just under three minutes to play in her final game as a Lady Raider. Sophomore Kierra Sims added 14 points for Huntington, which had just four players score for the first time all season.
Vandebilt Catholic had plenty of weapons with five players finishing in double figures. Barrios added 16 points, mostly on layups after Lady Raider turnovers, Triggs tossed in 13, while Sade’ Murrell and Jasmine Howard added 10 apiece.
“I don’t know if we played our best game, but we got the job done,” Luke said.
After the Lady Raiders had clawed their way back into the game near the end of the third quarter, the Terriers put it away to start the fourth. Barrios scored three times on layups after steals, while Murrell dropped in two jumpers from about seven feet on the left wing, in a 12-4 VCHS run that salted the game.