Defense leads Dust Devils past Whittell
Nevada Appeal News Service
ZEPHYR COVE – Dayton waited for the right opportunity to spring its full-court pressure defense on Whittell on Tuesday night.
After inviting the Warriors to fire away from the perimeter against their 2-3 zone for most of four quarters, the Dust Devils’ change of defenses late in the fourth period caused several turnovers to key a 32-31 nonleague girls’ basketball victory.
“That end is where we are going to pour it on,” said Dayton coach Cliff Serawop. “When they are tired and you put that press on, that’s an added amount of stress. We are looking to press at the end, because that’s what happens.”
Emily Harris’ free throw with 2 minutes, 12 seconds remaining put Whittell ahead for the last time at 31-30. Maribel Ledezma scored the decisive basket 32 seconds later, taking a high-post feed from Taylor Hill and scoring on a layup.
“We missed some assignments in our box-and-one (defense). We came out too far, so they were able to get underneath us,” said Whittell coach Tom Esposito, whose team employed a 2-3 zone for most of the evening.
Dayton then forced several turnovers, including one with 39 seconds remaining, to hold off the pesky Warriors. The Dust Devils, however, didn’t try to run out the clock, taking several risky shots, but Whittell wasn’t able to corral a rebound before time ran out.
“We’re still learning because we have a young team, and I’m still trying to find that chemistry,” Serawop said. “This is some of the situational stuff (they are learning), when you have a lead, and I’m trying to pull them back so we can work some time off that clock.”
Ledezma, who tested the Warriors with her speed in transition, scored Dayton’s final four points and shared team-scoring honors with Andrea Ramirez with eight points. Hill dropped in seven.
“We’ve been working on pushing that ball, and we get a little more energy through that,” Serawop said.
The back-and-forth contest saw Whittell take a 15-12 lead on freshman Riley Chapman’s three-pointer with 4:35 to go before halftime. But Dayton scored the final six points of the half to take an 18-15 edge. Amber Brooks’ 12-foot shot after a spate of Dayton offensive rebounds gave the Dust Devils a 20-15 lead early in the third quarter, but Whittell rallied to go in front 22-20 on Emily Harris’ trifecta with 2:50 remaining in the period. Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the way.
“I was really proud of the way we played overall. This is only our first game at home, and there is a lot of pressure playing at home,” said Whittell’s Emily Harris, who led all scorers with 12 points and 19 rebounds.
The Dust Devils improved to 3-1 overall, while Whittell dropped to 0-4. Dayton plays at 6 p.m. Thursday against Lund at the Virginia City Tournament.