The Sierra girls weren’t perfect, but they showed how dangerous they could be when they crank up the intensity.
The host Stallions (4-2) forced turnovers and put enough pressure on the young Discovery Canyon backcourt to come away with a 42-33 win Tuesday night.
The Sierra program has built a reputation of playing a fast and aggressive style of basketball that forces the opponent to do the heavy lifting, and it was on display against the Thunder (2-6).
“We practice our trapping defense every day and our coaches make sure we do it right,” said Sierra point guard Selina Barnes, who had 15 points, seven assists, five steals and five rebounds. “There’s a specific way you have to run the trap to excel at it.”
The Stallions stole the ball 13 times, many of which led to layups on the offensive side. In a game where points were at a premium, the easy buckets enabled Sierra to overcome a poor shooting performance.
“Our defense was more disciplined than our offense was tonight,” said Sierra assistant coach Johnny Grimaldo, who stepped in for head coach Joe Williams while he attended to a family situation. “The seniors on our team took over a big role tonight and that helped us win the game.”
Several aspects of the game were anything but pretty for Sierra, as it was outrebounded 34-30 and went 10-of-23 at the free-throw line. However, the defense was so dominant that it made up for the offensive deficiencies.
While Sierra leaned on its senior point guard to fill up the stat sheet, Discovery Canyon was without top scorer Mariah McGettigan. The 5-10 senior is the only player on the Thunder roster to average double-figure scoring (10.1 ppg) and also grabs six boards per game.
“Being without our leading scorer tonight, there’s a 10-point difference, which would’ve been the difference in the game,” Discovery Canyon coach Danelle Rivera said of her senior who had a 102-degree temperature. “We knew coming in that it was going to be difficult and some girls would have to step up, and I think a lot of them did.”
One of those girls who stepped up was senior Taylor Barbato. Only one of two senior leaders on the court, Barbato scored 10 points and collected 11 rebounds. She knows the five sophomores and one freshman will develop with time.
“We have a lot of things we need to push through, but once the season progresses I think this team will get better and better,” Barbato said. “Against teams with speed like Sierra we’re going to have to control the ball better, and I think we’ll be very good by the end of the season.”
Rebecca Cross contributed eight points for Sierra, while Discovery Canyon’s other senior, Kerry Pederson, chipped in eight points and 10 rebounds.