New Richmond head coach Brad Hatfield talked to his team at halftime of their game on Monday, Dec. 19 about playing their best, something he didn’t think they were doing in the first half. The Lady Lions responded to their coach’s challenge with a 22-point third quarter en route to a 23-point road win over Batavia, 55-32.
“We talked a lot about playing like the team we are,” Hatfield said. “The second half we came out and were way more active on defense, our feet were moving a lot quicker and the 50/50 balls started going our way. That translated into things going our way on offense as well.”
Both teams came out of the locker room a little sloppily to start the game. The Lady Bulldogs had some trouble getting into their offense as New Richmond’s guards pressured the ball as soon as they stepped over half court, creating turnovers.
The Lady Lions struggled in converting those turnovers into points, in part because of the decisions they made after making the steals.
“We were making some bad decisions with the basketball in transition,” Hatfield said after the game. “In the second half, we started to wear down on Batavia a little bit and that’s when the transition opportunities opened up for us.”
In the first quarter, New Richmond made a concerted effort to feed their go-to scorer, 6-foot-5 sophomore center, Josie Buckingham.
Buckingham, who was seven inches taller than Batavia’s biggest girl, could turn and shoot over her smaller defenders for easy opportunities.
However, with New Richmond’s guards making a fair amount of steals and pushing the ball up court, Buckingham didn’t get as many touches in transition as Coach Hatfield would have liked in the early going.
Hatfield did get some early scoring from sophomore guard Bailey Workman who scored seven of the Lady Lions’ 11 first-quarter points on a pair of three-pointers and a foul shot.
“She’s a player that has a tremendous upside to her,” Hatfield said of Workman. “I don’t know of too many players that are faster than her from Point A to Point B with the ball and she’s a tremendous finisher.”
For Batavia’s side, freshman Samantha McElfresh is the key cog in the Lady Bulldog’s offense. McElfresh averages 13.4 points per game, nearly 10 more points than her closest teammate.
With her playing style – a slashing wingman – McElfresh was able to get into the heart of New Richmond’s zone and get to the foul line 10 times.
“She likes to drive, so we tried to stay between her and the basket,” Hatfield said. “We tried to close out on the shot, but guard against the drive first.
“In man-to-man we tried to put Sarah Shoemaker or Tina Lawrence, our best two defenders on a player of that type, matched up with her.”
As New Richmond keyed in on McElfresh, the Bulldogs did their best to lock down Buckingham, often putting two defenders on her, making an entry pass difficult.
Batavia also attacked Buckingham with the drive. Along with McElfresh, the rest of the Lady Bulldogs took the ball at Buckingham, forcing her to make a play on the ball and hoping for a foul call.
Buckingham was forced to sit down with two fouls with 5:34 remaining in the second quarter. She wouldn’t return until after the half.
Even with Buckingham on the bench, the Lady Lions increased their lead to 24-14 at halftime.
With a pep talk from Hatfield about playing up to their potential in the locker room, the Lady Lions came back out to blow open the game in the third quarter, this time with Buckingham as a part of it.
“When we have a big run like [we did in the third quarter], Josie Buckingham usually plays a pretty big part in it,” Hatfield said. “When we get pressed she’s our finisher. She’s our number one option in the half-court offense because there’s no one that can really match up with her one-on-one or even two-on-one.”
The Lady Bulldogs were outscored in the third quarter 22-9 and trailed 46-23 as time ran out in the frame.
Buckingham accounted for nine points in the third quarter and Mikaela Rupp added six points on two-for-two shooting from three-point land.
The fourth quarter gave Coach Hatfield a chance to get some of his younger players into the game and let them get some varsity experience.
Through it all, McElfresh and the Lady Bulldogs kept playing hard, coming after New Richmond with full-court pressure. Unfortunately for Batavia, the New Richmond was too large to overcome as they fell to 2-7 with the loss.
New Richmond, who sits atop the Southern Buckeye Conference American Division, improved to 7-0 following the win.
Both teams finished their schedules for 2011 and will pick back up the first week of January.
New Richmond (7-0) – Workman 4 4 14, Shoemaker 1 0 2, Rupp 3 3 11, Keets 0 2 2, Buckingham 6 3 15, Lawrence 3 0 6, Jaehnen 1 0 2, Grogan 1 0 3. Totals: 19 12 55.
Batavia (2-5) – Richardson 2 2 6, Fraley 1 1 3, McElfresh 5 8 18, Everhart 1 2 4, O’Brien 0 1 1. Totals: 9 14 32.
Halftime: New Richmond 24-24. 3-pointers: N 5 (Workman 2, Rupp 2, Grogan); B none.