Highland: Sports

Pressure defense lifts Bulldog girls to conference win over Triad

Highland’s Ellie Brown (5) puts pressure on Triad’s Alyssa Powell during a game this past season. The IHSA Board of Directors recently announced a format change to the Illinois high school boys and girls state basketball finals weekend. State championships still will be decided in four classes, but all will play on the same weekend.
Highland’s Ellie Brown (5) puts pressure on Triad’s Alyssa Powell during a game this past season. The IHSA Board of Directors recently announced a format change to the Illinois high school boys and girls state basketball finals weekend. State championships still will be decided in four classes, but all will play on the same weekend. Photo by Jonathan Duncan

There are going to be nights when the Highland Lady Bulldogs will struggle to get shots to fall from the floor and Thursday night (Nov. 29) was one of them.

Fortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, they can turn to pressure defense when the shots aren’t falling.

Highland went to man-to-man pressure defense, used a 9-2 first quarter run and a late third quarter spurt to roll to a 41-28 win over Mississippi Valley Conference rival Triad at home in the conference opener for the Lady Bulldogs.

“Tonight, it was kind of one of those nights where we got good looks and the looks we wanted and the ball just didn’t go in the basket,” Highland coach Clint Hamilton said.

Highland moved to 5-1 (1-0 in the MVC) and has now won eight straight home games against Triad.

Triad (3-2, 1-1 in MVC play) fell behind 14-4 in the second quarter but the Knights scored 11 points in the third quarter to stay within striking distance of the Lady Bulldogs.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit Triad,” Hamilton said. “They did a nice job tonight defensively of just limiting us to one shot and they did a good job of keeping the ball alive and getting rebounds themselves.”

Highland struggled to maintain its up-tempo pace as Triad’s defense forced the Bulldogs into a slow half court style.

That changed late in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs erupted with a run to help them take control of the game.

Senior guard Ellie Brown and Ashlyn Klucker keyed the run with big plays and the lead was 31-21 heading into the fourth quarter.

Brown was strong with the ball, driving to the basket and finishing shots in the lane. She pumped in 13 points to pace the Lady Bulldogs.

“She does a good job of penetration, getting in the lane and making good decisions with the ball and tonight in the first half, she did a good job of getting into the lane with the ball,” Hamilton said. “Most of our guards do a pretty good job of getting in the paint and trying to find the open man.”

Megan Kronk added nine points and senior guard Mae Riffel had 8 points.

Heather Rood scored a game-high for point for Triad.

Highland’s defense has surged in the past week as the Lady Bulldogs have given up no more than 33 points in a game since going 4-1 and winning the Salem Thanksgiving Tournament.

They don’t want have it become a habit but Lady Bulldogs have comfort in knowing if they have an off-night, their defense will continue to answer the bell when needed.

“That what we went into the season priding ourselves on,” Hamilton said. “Playing good on the defensive end and knowing if we have a bad offensive night and you hold your opponent to under 35 points, you stand a good chance to win.”

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