MUNCIE – Central girls basketball coach Lisa Blalock said her players are disappointed when they aren’t running a full-court pressure defense. The Bearcats like to utilize a high-energy style, and Blalock is perfectly comfortable letting them play that way.
Friday’s game against Lafayette Jeff in Muncie Fieldhouse was an example of how Blalock’s team prefers to play. The Bearcats used that pressure to force 11 turnovers in the first quarter alone, and cruised to a 65-29 conference win. The Bearcats had forced 18 Broncho turnovers by halftime. Central led by 14 points at the end of the first quarter and by 27 at halftime.
“It starts with our defense and our pressure and creating turnovers,” Blalock said. “And that’s what gives us energy and gets our offense going. They’re getting better and better at it, and they want to press, they want to play full-court. They get mad when I tell them that we’re backing it off. So I’m excited that they’re growing in it and that it’s becoming such a good tool for us.”
Junior and University of Dayton verbal commit Jayla Scaife had a big day for the Bearcats (10-4, 3-2 North Central Conference), scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She had 10 points in the first quarter, including a jumper just before the buzzer in that period to give her team a 23-9 advantage. She added seven more points in the second quarter, then played more limited minutes in the second half while her team maintained a large lead over the Bronchos (2-14, 0-5 NCC).
Central’s high-octane approach involves a variety of scorers, especially when getting opportunities on fast breaks off turnovers. Hadassah Harris scored 13 points, and Ke’Chell Tate scored eight. Fa’Tara Davis added seven and Savannah Jackson scored six.
Blalock said depth is a key to her team’s system, especially for purposes of maintaining energy levels while playing pressure defense.
“It takes a lot of energy to play at that intensity,” Blalock said. “And we got great contributions all the way around. The starters were tired, the subs came in and they did an outstanding job. I think it helps they go against each other hard every day in practice. They really get after it and compete and they make each other better.”
As the IHSAA postseason tournament gets closer, Blalock said details become more critical in her team’s practice time.
“Continuing just to focus on the little things,” she said. “Every little detail of our defense, from full-court pressure to half-court and being in the right spots. And boxing out is always a huge thing for us. And offensively, our execution just as far as our cuts and our screens and those little things that we need to do well to go deep into February if that’s where we’re going.”
Lexi Randolph led Lafayette Jeff with 10 points, and teammate Madison Flanagan added eight.
Contact prep sports reporter Sam Wilson at (765) 213-5807. Follow him on Twitter @SamWilsonTSP.