Senior Grace Lange and sophomore Sasha Marvel combined for 24 points and 22 rebounds to lead Caravel to a 42-26 nonconference girls basketball victory over host Concord on Monday.
For the 3-1 Buccaneers, it was another step taken in the maturation of a team that started two freshman, two sophomores and a junior in last year’s state tournament loss to Sanford. A year older and coming off a strong fall league showing, the results are positive.
“I think the girls can feel it, that we’ve got something good happening,” said coach Kristin Caldwell. “It’s not perfect. I mean, you saw it, it’s not perfect. With the energy there, on the defensive end, I think we’re doing some really good things. The offense will come, but at this time of year the defense and just how hard we play is what I’m really happy about.”
The Bucs shot just 13-for-50 from the field (26 percent) and were a little sloppy handling the ball. That was the “not perfect” part of the performance. However, the defense and consistent hustle and team play more than wiped away any smudges.
Traditionally, not a trapping team, Caravel extended its defense to force traps, coax errant passes and get the Raiders involved in a transition game that seemed to favor the Bucs.
“We play a lot of straight man and a little zone,” said Caldwell. “But because of our bench and because of our depth, we’re able to press and trap and run and just keep rotating kids. And, so far, so good.”
Concord (3-1) came into the game averaging 59 points per outing and were held 33 points below that. A multitude of turnovers was one factor. Another was the helping defense against serious low-post threat Breanna Grant, who was still the Raiders’ top offensive option, scoring 10 points to go with 13 rebounds.
“ Whoever had weak side – whether it was my teammate Ondia [Brown] or my teammate Karli [Cauley] — came down and doubled down,” said Lange, who did her best to man up on Grant and still find time to grab eight rebounds and score 13 points. “We felt we had to do it together so it gets accomplished.”
Meanwhile, 6-foot-1 Kaylee Otlowski (normally a forward) helped hold explosive guard Zhan’e Snow to eight points. The Concord junior had entered the game averaging 17.7 points.
“Kaylee Otlowski, that’s the second tough guard assignment I’ve given her on Snow,” said Caldwell. “That’s a post player moving her feet out there with probably one of the quickest girls in the state.”
After falling behind 4-0, the Bucs ran off 10 straight points and led 18-10 at the half. The feeling was, yeah, they were leading, but Concord was a good team capable of coming back.
“I think it clicked for all of us, and Sasha especially,” said Lange, referring to the 5-8 Marvel in the second half. “She went into second gear. I mean, she had 14 rebounds [for the game]. She’s going against girls way bigger than her size and she’s just a freak athlete. I’m really proud of her.”
Marvel scored seven of her 11 points in the third quarter as the lead was extended to 30-16. She finished with four steals, and maybe it was fortunate she got the opportunity to finish at all.
“The first quarter, I’ll admit, I was a little tentative and stuff,” Marvel said. “My coach said I had three strikes. She said, ‘If you don’t go to the basket and be more aggressive, then I’m going to sit you down. So I had to pick it up.”
Concord started last season winning its first 19 games en route to the Blue Hen Conference title and a 21-2 overall mark. Coach John Armstrong said he never wants to lose a game, but at least the idea of going 19-0 again is out of the way.
“We needed this,” he said. “We needed a test like this against a solid team, a good team, and we got it tonight. I go to compete in Flight A first and foremost, to compete with our peers. I mean, anything after that is gravy, making the tournament and going as far as we can in the tournament. We’re still on that path.
“We have some things we have to address and clean up, and hopefully we will.”