Delta defends its way to own tourney title
It took mere seconds into its opening possession before the Woodland girl’s basketball team felt the repercussions of playing Delta, as the two teams battled in the championship game of the New Year’s Tournament hosted by the Bobcats on Thursday.
The Cardinals won the opening tip but nothing after that, as Delta pressured the visitors defensively for 32 minutes and easily prevailed 78-54.
“The first half,” Bobcat coach David Heeb said of his team’s defense after the win, “I was (satisfied) a little bit. The second half, not a lot.”
Less than 10 seconds into the game, Woodland threw the ball out of bounds against the crazed Bobcat defense, and before the Cardinals knew it, they were down 8-0.
“It is a good way to get the offense flustered,” Bobcat junior guard Ashley White said of her team’s defensive philosophy. “Whenever we get them flustered, it gets us going.”
The Bobcats (11-1) stretched their margin to 20-6 to close the opening quarter before Woodland (5-6) gathered itself and began to handle the pressure.
The Cardinals were outscored 28-20 in the second quarter and 17-12 in the third, which sounds like large margins, but anytime a team can hang within single digits of THIS Delta squad over eight minutes, that ain’t half bad.
“They did some good things (against our defense),” Heeb said. “Give them credit.”
When the Cardinals were able to get the ball into their offensive zone and actually run some offense, they did manage to produce some points.
Senior guard Emma Brown drained three 3-pointers in the second quarter and finished with a team-high 23 points.
Woodland matched Delta with 17 attempts from the free-throw line but that Delta pressure enabled the Bobcats to have 11 more made shots due to turnovers forced.
“The more we (defend),” White continued, “the more we get going (offensively).”
The Cardinals managed to score 48 points over the final three periods, which was only 11 fewer than Delta, and don’t think Heeb didn’t notice that. However, a pair of Bobcat freshmen were too active offensively for Woodland to make a serious threat.
Addison Nichols and Presley Holweg combined for 16 points – in the second quarter, alone. The duo eventually scored 21 and 23 points, respectively.
Nine Delta players managed to score, as Heeb continually rotated players into the game. That strategy is beneficial, according to White. She explained that it enables the players to go as hard as possible for short amounts because they know they will get subbed for regularly.
“In practice,” White said, “we play the same way (fast), so we are constantly running day in and day out.”
White plays at the top of the Bobcat defense, so the pressure begins with her, but she also contributed 10 points offensively, as did junior Kendall Holweg.
White buried a pair of 3-pointers, while Nichols sank four.
The Cardinals got nine points each from Chloe Goodwin and Addie Johnson.
“We had some letdowns,” Heeb said. “We definitely learned some things that we need to tighten up.”
The Bobcats will host Scott City Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. but on the horizon is an intriguing match-up with MSHSAA Class 4 No. 2-ranked New Madrid County Central (9-2) on the 18th of this month.
The Eagles are coached by Heeb’s younger brother, Toby Heeb.
“We play to our own standard,” Heeb said of his expectations for his team. “That standard is really high and it is impossible to play to that standard all of the time. When you don’t, you’re frustrated. What we have to learn to do is not be frustrated when things are not going as good as you want them to go.”
Delta doesn’t have a senior on its roster, so every game – even blowout wins – are opportunities for the Bobcats to grow.
“We’re young,” Heeb said, “so we’re still learning. We are frustrated now (despite the 24-point win), but we can fix it.”
Woodland will host Saxony Lutheran on Jan. 14.
The Bobcats placed four players on the All-Tournament squad.
White and Kendall Holweg were joined by Lacey Blattel and Allie Hampton.
Advance junior Alandry Below was named to the squad, as were Paige Glueck (Oak Ridge), Rachael Hellebusch (Meadow Heights), Genevieve Lipe (St. Vincent), Emma Brown, and Addie Johnson from Woodland.