The New Richmond Lady Lions were able to overcome a slow start offensively by creating turnovers and transition baskets en route to a 22-point first-round win over Ross, 42-20, in the sectional tournament on Thursday, Feb. 16.
“Our defense always creates our offense,” New Richmond coach Brad Hatfield said. “We were getting stops and Josie (Buckingham) was getting blocked shots, so we were getting rebounds and translating that into pretty quick points, which if we can get Bailey (Workman) out in the open floor, she typically scores.”
Those transition baskets didn’t come easily early on for the Lady Lions.
Ross started out in an inactive, packed-in two-three zone that dedicated two and three defenders to New Richmond’s 6-foot-5 sophomore center Josie Buckingham.
In an effort to minimize Buckingham’s impact, Ross forced New Richmond to settle for outside jump shots, which weren’t falling early.
Hatfield was able to make some adjustments midway through the first quarter that really allowed the Lady Lions to create some offense.
“Our offense kind of evolved,” he said. “When they were running zone (in the first half), we put (Sarah) Shoemaker down on the baseline because we wanted to get a tall kid with some playmaking abilities inside that zone to make some passes to Josie and keep their defense from putting too many people on her.”
With Shoemaker getting the ball in the short corner, Buckingham was able to re-post and get some better looks at the basket.
While the New Richmond offense started to click later in the quarter, their defense was on point from the get-go, giving up just three points in the first quarter and five in the first half.
“I think this is the best defensive team that I’ve ever coached,” Hatfield said, “and probably the best defensive team I’ve seen this season.
“We don’t make too many defensive mistakes, but we have someone who can erase those mistakes. We’re active and tenacious and get hustle plays and all those things contribute to our defense.”
The Lady Lions were able to blow open the game in the second quarter with their transition buckets and half-court sets that picked apart the Ross zone.
Aside from Workman in transition and Buckingham on the low block, New Richmond got some unexpected help from Courtney Grogan on her birthday.
“She had 10 big points and hit a three,” Hatfield said. “I thought she was a big part of what we were able to do tonight.”
With a 23-5 lead at the break, New Richmond had the game well in hand. However, a third quarter lull in intensity was something Hatfield wasn’t pleased with. Ross got to within eight points, but couldn’t get any closer.
The Lady Lions put the pressure back on to start the fourth quarter, getting eight quick points to open up a 32-16 lead with five minutes left in the game.
At that point, Hatfield felt comfortable calling it a night for Buckingham and Workman. Buckingham finished with 11 points and Workman added 15 more, 12 of which came off of fast breaks.
The Lady Lions advanced to play Talawanda in the second round of the sectional tournament.
“Talawanda’s a real nice team,” Hatfield said. “Their guards are little and quick and shoot the ball well. Their post players are big and strong and rebound the ball well. So, they’re going to be tough to guard.
“We’re definitely going to have our hands full. They’re the No. 4 seed and I’m not sure they didn’t deserve the No. 2 seed from what I’ve seen.”
The game was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Withrow.