Log in

Chadwick's zone defense edges Sparta's man-to-man, as both sides finish in the 30s

CADWICK'S KERRIGAN GUERIN tries to find room around Sparta's Mya Fulton on Wednesday.
CADWICK'S KERRIGAN GUERIN tries to find room around Sparta's Mya Fulton on Wednesday.

Rae Little put on her best poker face while assuming Chadwick’s point guard duties Wednesday.

The Lady Cardinals played without their three-year starting playmaker, Kerrigan Guerin, down the stretch, but closed things out to net a 34-31 triumph against Sparta.

Guerin fouled out with 3:45 remaining and Chadwick leading 29-25.

“I panicked instantly," Little said her reaction to Guerin fouling out. “But I knew I turned into the leader. I had to keep my composure. If I kept my composure, then (my teammates) would, too. We came together and said, 'Yeah, she means a lot to us on the court. But we can do this.’ I'm very proud of us and very happy we won.”

Chadwick (18-5) made 5-of-8 free throws in the clutch, with Little hitting 3-of-4 freebies to cap her game-high 14-point night and Emily Landry netting 2-of-4 free throws.

Coach Shawn Guerin was pleased to see freshmen the likes of Emily and Macy Landry play under pressure.

“They needed that,” he said. ‘We obviously don't want our point guard to foul out. But going forward, if you want to make a deep run, we've got to have players who want to get out there. Maybe at that moment I wasn't happy about it. But after the fact, after some of my girls got experience against a really good team, we'll take that.”

Kerrigan Guerin was also pleased how her teammates responded to her absence.

“When I was out, they knew how to execute and do things perfectly and they did,” she said. “We’re a well-rounded basketball team.”

The win lessened her frustrations with her fouls. She was whistled for her fifth foul on a charging foul along the perimeter drawn by Sparta’s Livi Loveland.

“It wasn't a foul. That might sound bad. But I don't care,” said Kerrigan, who had 11 points. “What they refs call and what they don't think is a flop, you can't change their mind on it.”

Kerrigan’s cousin, Sparta forward Averi Leyland also fouled out, as did Lady Trojans guard Mya Fulton.

As important as it was for Chadwick to handle the ball without Kerrigan, the Lady Cardinals no doubt won on the strength of their 2-3 zone defense. 

“Our defense is what wins our games,” Little said.

Chadwick’s 3-2 zone actually had the semblance of a 2-3 as the game went on. The Lady Cardinals’ top priority initially was pressuring the ball-handlers at the top of Sparta’s half-court offense.

Trouble was Chadwick was applying too much pressure, repeatedly sending the Lady Trojans to the foul line. Sparta didn’t exactly take advantage, making 6-of-12 free throws in the first quarter.

“I think we were a little too amped up. I think Sparta was, too,” Shawn Guerin said. “Both teams were competing and wanting to play hard. The refs were trying to keep it in check.”

The Lady Cards held Sparta center Amri Youngmon to two points in the second half, after she scored nine in the first half.

"We adjusted,” Shawn Guerin said. “We wanted to make sure we limited (Youngmon) and force them to shoot outside more. I knew they can shoot outside, but the higher percentage shot is Amri inside. She's a great player. We've known her for years. She's one of our close friends.

“We also didn't rebound well in the first half,” he added. “We lost the rebound battle in the first half badly. That was a huge topic at halftime.

We had to sit back in our zone more than what we're used to. Overall, I'm pretty proud of what we did.”

“He did a good job packing it against us in his zone,” Sparta coach Josh Loveland said. “If I was going to play us, I would do that to Amree also and make someone else hit shots.”

Loveland was disappointed to see his offense put up 73 points at Seymour on Tuesday and then not even score half that amount 24 hours later.

"We hit every shot we threw at the basket last night. You come home and hoped that would carry over,” Loveland said. “I told them to not let the emotions of the Sparta-Chadwick matchup dictate the game. We were’t confident. I felt like we played pretty timid in the second and third quarters.

"You miss all six free throws like we did (over the second and third quarters) and then you go five possessions without scoring. Missing those free throws kills the momentum of your offense,” he added. “You can't have empty possessions. Even if you hit just one free throw, it makes a difference. But when you're not scoring for long periods of time, then when you do get opportunities you're a little nervy.”

Loveland was pleased with Sparta’s defense.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win,” he said. “You know when you play (Chadwick), you’re going to go off a million ball-screens and a million dribble hand-offs. We played hard and held them to 34. Our defense was solid.”