DALEVILLE – Dameon Wyatt admits it’s been a slow transition. The first-year Daleville girls basketball coach has had to implement a new system, something which always seems to take time for any new coach. Preseason injuries did nothing to help matters.
Yet it seems clear Wyatt shares an affinity for a defensive-oriented approach with predecessor Jeff Wickersham. Wyatt’s squad used pressure defense to pick up a 48-43 comeback win against rival Cowan Saturday at Daleville.
“Our philosophy (is) everybody can play defense,” Wyatt said. “They really have bought into that, we’ve been working on it. Defense is all effort in our eyes. So we’re going to give up shots, some kids are going to make plays, but we just keep playing.”
The Broncos struggled early Saturday, especially offensively. Cowan (5-6, 1-3 Mid-Eastern Conference) scored the game’s first nine points and it took Daleville (4-8, 2-3 MEC) more than five minutes to score its first basket. Daleville still trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter.
But the Broncos then forced nine fourth-quarter turnovers to turn the tide in the five-point win. Wyatt said he believes his defensive-oriented system can sometimes wear down an opponent, helping the Broncos come back in a game in which they trail early.
“Tonight that happened,” Wyatt said. “I think (Cowan sophomore) Carli Skinner is a heck of a player, and I think she just got a little tired down the stretch, and her shots weren’t falling like they were in the first half. And I think it’s all the pressure we applied, fullcourt the entire game. Yeah, definitely credit to the kids for just playing hard and pushing her.”
Daleville was able to get much of its scoring in the post. Kaylee Allen scored 16 points, and postmate Kristen Zimmers was right behind her with 15. Zimmers had seven rebounds and Allen had six, helping Daleville outrebound Cowan 36-31 for the game. Wyatt said Allen has been scoring more recently, an increase aided by her teammates passing her the ball more often.
“We try to tell the kids we want to give them a touch each possession, whether it’s a scoring touch or just a touch,” Wyatt said. “And so, yeah, we emphasize getting it into the post because we feel that’s our strength right now.”
Guard Hannah McKinney scored seven points for the Broncos, and backcourt mate Mikayla Craig scored six and also grabbed six rebounds.
Skinner guided Cowan offensively with 19 points. Mariah Rumfelt and Pressley England each scored eight points for the Blackhawks, with England grabbing seven rebounds.
Wyatt said he has noticed his team has been jelling better recently during his first year in the program.
“Something has clicked, they’re playing harder, they’re not giving up,” Wyatt said. “And we’re starting to make that turn a little bit. So, proud of their effort.”
Contact prep sports reporter Sam Wilson at (765) 213-5807. Follow him on Twitter @SamWilsonTSP.