Lady Chiefs make short work of Northwest
SEDALIA -- It could be that forcing the Santa Fe girls into being a jump-shooting team will prove a sound strategy.
It didn't work for Northwest of Hughesville Saturday at the W-K Chevrolet-Buick/State Fair Community College Holiday Shoot-out in Sedalia. While the Lady Mustangs sagged-in "2-3" zone defense limited the Lady Chiefs' inside game, it left open a slew of mid-range jumpers -- which Santa Fe converted often enough for an easy 42-25 victory.
The Lady Chiefs found alternatives when Northwest -- with no player over 5-foot-7 -- made life difficult for 5-11 junior Michelle Aversman and totally contained 6-4 junior Holly Schmidt, who didn't get a touch in the paint until the closing minutes of the rout.
"They had to do something to shut [Schmidt] down," noted Santa Fe head coach Tina Burton. "We have to work on getting her open in that situation."
On this day, though, it wasn't a problem, since junior Ashton Smith -- when she wasn't making her own shots, scoring a game-high 12 points -- was finding open teammates. She hit a three-pointer, drove to the hole, and set up five other field goals as the Lady Chiefs broke out to a 20-6 lead.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe's full-court press was inflicting headaches on the Lady Mustangs, who went through a seven-minute stretch during the first half without a field goal -- four times blowing lay-ups following successful passes over the defense.
"You keep that full pressure on a team that struggles with that and it eventually pays off," Burton said.
The Lady Chiefs shot 41.7 percent from the field during the first half, more efficient than usual, with juniors Jennifer Knipmeyer and Elizabeth Hinz making five of 10 from the floor, for a 23-11 mid-game cushion.
Northwest made only one field goal during the third period, falling behind by as many as 20 points until the game's closing minutes. The Lady Mustangs (3-5) got 11 points from sophomore Ashton Miller, but committed 20 turnovers and were beaten on the boards, 36-26.
Smith turned in a strong-all around game with nine assists, eight rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots. Aversman had nine points and nine boards for Santa Fe (4-3), which has won three out of four games.
However, if the Lady Chiefs are going to be successful, they must have balance. Their shooting has improved, but they cannot allow opponents to cut off Schmidt in the middle. And Schmidt cannot let herself be cut off, even if being banged front and back is frustrating.
"We need to continue focusing on our inside game," Burton declared. "The outside shots will have to be there, but we've gained so much in confidence in them."