Using stifling defense in the second half, the Sonoraville High School girls basketball team got into the win column for the first time this season Monday afternoon with a 43-33 win over Model in the Armuchee Thanksgiving Classic.
They finished tournament play Tuesday afternoon in Armuchee against the host team (details were not available at press time) and then were off for the holiday before they are back on the court Tuesday night for their home opener at the Furnace against Cartersville.
The win over Model was a low-scoring affair from the start with both teams struggling to make shots in the first half, but in the second half, the Phoenix full-court zone-trap defense created some turnovers and some fast break layup opportunities and the visitors’ offense came to life.
“We had to be a little more aggressive offensively,” Sonoraville girls head basketball coach Stephanie Caudell said regarding her halftime talk with her players. “(Model) was doing a good job of pressuring us defensively and trying to make us run our stuff as far away from the bucket as possible, so I told the girls that we couldn’t let them push us out of what we were trying to do. And I thought we did a much better job in the second half of handling that.
“I also thought we did a much better job of attacking the basket. We did a good job of getting to the free throw line, although we missed too many of them, but I thought we did play much better in the second half.”
The Phoenix trailed just 16-14 at halftime, but took control of the issue in the third period, outscoring the Blue Devils 12-4 in that span to go from down two to up nine.
They also went from their zone defense to full-court trap pressure and while they exactly didn’t fly around, they were able to speed up the Blue Devils and make them start throwing it around the gym a little bit.
“We did a good job with (full court defense), but it really wasn’t a pressure thing,” Caudell said. “It was more of a contain thing. We were just trying to see if we could get a hand on the ball every now and then or a deflection or a tip or something to try and just disrupt what they were doing. And we were also trying to control the tempo too, so, I definitely thought what we were trying to do there was effective.”
Model scored the first basket of the third period to lead 18-14, but Sonoraville followed with a 9-0 scoring run that gave them the lead for good.
Junior forward Camden Steely converted a putback and then made a steal and a layup in a 60-second span to knot the game at 18 with 4:45 left in the third.
Kayleigh Kelley, who led all scorers with 11 points, went the length-of-the-court with a rebound for a layup and the Phoenix were up 20-18 and a minute later, post player Diana Smith finished the outburst with an old-fashioned three-point play on a putback and a foul shot, giving the visitors a 23-18 lead with 3:40 showing.
Model cut the lead to four with a foul shot, but Kelley made a steal and a layup and then rebounded a missed shot and put it back in to push the lead to 28-19 with 1:16 to play and force a Blue Devil timeout.
A Model free throw trimmed the lead back to eight and Sonoraville was up 28-20 going into the fourth.
A Steely layup to start the final eight minutes gave the Phoenix its first double digit lead of the night at 30-20 with 7:41 to play.
The Blue Devils scored the next two baskets to pull within six at 30-24 with six minutes left, but the Phoenix responded with a 9-4 run to put it away that included a Kelley 3-point shot for a 39-28 advantage.
Their biggest lead of the game was a 43-30 on an Erin Garland layup with just under a minute to go.
Eight different players had points for Sonoraville and after Kelley, Smith was the second leading scorer for the Phoenix with nine points.
Sonoraville led 10-8 after the first period, but were outscored 8-4 in the second to trail at halftime.
The game put the Phoenix at 1-1 on the season after they lost to AAA Region 6 mate Adairsville, 33-29 to start the year.