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Spartans defense thrives until scoring arrives

By: JUSTIN SHAW preps@gazette.com
February 25, 2014 Updated: February 25, 2014 at 10:15 pm
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It took Doherty three quarters to get into playoff mode, but once the Spartans shifted into gear, it was a smooth ride to the 5A girls' basketball second round.

Doherty overcame a rough first 24 minutes to defeat Mountain Range 61-47 in an opening-round playoff game.

Mountain Range (8-16) led by one point after the first quarter,and by two points at the half. Doherty (11-12) would pull even at 36 by the end of the third quarter before dominating the last eight minutes 25-11.

"Our hustle and determination improved in the fourth quarter, and we just wanted to go further into the playoffs," said Doherty senior captain Meagan Kramer. "In the end, it was a matter of us wanting it more than them."

Although the seventh-seeded Spartans couldn't get into a rhythm on offense, their defense kept them in the game until the 25-point, fourth-quarter explosion.

Doherty forced 25 Mountain Range turnovers and converted 18 of 26 free-throw attempts, which canceled out a poor shooting night.

"We have a lot of depth on our bench, and we knew if we kept pressuring them it would pay off in the fourth quarter," said Doherty coach Patrick McKiernan, whose team employed a full-court trapping defense the entire game. "Our pressure defense was great; we just have to make more shots than we did tonight."

More than one quarter of Doherty's points came from sophomore Ivory Masching, who scored a game-high 16, including three 3-pointers.

Masching made five of six free throws in the final two minutes to help increase the lead to double digits.

"I was very happy with how we played in the fourth quarter, and we played as more of a team," Masching said. "Tonight, I just looked for my shot when I could and hoped it dropped. We need to work on not turning the ball over as much and getting more offensive possessions."

Doherty faces a tough test in the second round, as it will travel to No. 2 Lakewood (22-1) on Friday night.

McKiernan knows that a duplicate effort of Tuesday night at Lakewood will not result in the same outcome.

"Our defense has kept us in games all year, but we need to rebound better and not foul as much on Friday," he said. "We can't take three quarters to adjust to what the other team is doing and how the refs are calling the game."

Kramer agreed with her coach's assessment.

"We have to make better passes and execute better if we want to win," said Kramer, who had nine points and five rebounds. "We like to play physical, but we have to play smart."

Mariah Willey was the only player to join Masching in double-figure scoring for Doherty with 11 points, while Abby Brich was the only Mountain Range player to score in double digits with 14.

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