A focused effort on defense and efficient play on offense Monday night propelled the Buchtel girls basketball team to its fifth win in a row.
The host Griffins used their speed and athleticism to earn a 71-40 win over Kenmore-Garfield in a City Series game.
Junior Javaan Rogers played the role of catalyst for Buchtel with 18 points, seven rebounds, five steals, four assists and four blocks.
Sophomore Dae Dae Nash (15 points), sophomore Kanai Chance (15 points) and senior Imani Jackson (14 points) also scored in double figures for the Griffins.
Buchtel (5-1, 3-0) outscored Kenmore-Garfield (2-6, 1-2) in each quarter, holding leads of 14-5 after one, 32-22 at halftime and 55-30 through three.
“We talked at halftime about getting focused for the third quarter,” Buchtel coach Brian Neugebauer said. “We played better defense in the second half. In the second quarter, we kind of let up and gave up some easy buckets. We wanted to get back to the start we had in the first quarter, and re-establishing ourselves defensively was a big key.”
Freshman Quimari Shelton paced Kenmore-Garfield with 12 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. I’anna Lopp (10 points, six rebounds) and Aalayah Littlejohn (six points, five rebounds) were also very active on the floor for the Rams.
Buchtel outscored Kenmore-Garfield 23-8 in the third quarter to take control.
“We worked on moving the ball though a zone because we get defended by zones a lot,” said Jackson, who also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. “We were working on getting through the gaps and finding ways to get shots without shooting off of the first pass. Basically, we moved the ball and talked to each other more on defense to get more stops.”
Nash also had nine rebounds, three steals, three assists and two blocks.
“We have improved on talking defensively, and our chemistry is getting better and better every day,” Nash said.
Buchtel’s starters outscored Kenmore-Garfield’s starters 67-33.
“We are moving the ball and, like the girls said, we are playing better together as a team,” Neugebauer said. “To have four people in double figures is huge, but we are going to keep hanging our hat on defense and continue to try and get better.”
Senior Ro’Naeza Saunders contributed five points and seven rebounds for Buchtel and freshman Leah Cheatham had four points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Buchtel opened its season with a loss to Louisville, and since then has wins over Tallmadge, Chippewa, North, East and Kenmore-Garfield.
“We talk more to each other on the court, we run back on defense and we know each other more,” said Chance, who also had five rebounds and two steals. “That first game, I don’t think we played well with each other.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.