Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 2:53PM
Progressing into post season
By Stephen Bubalo
Special to the Journal
Ideally, a team would like to see its progress show up in the win column, to know that they’re getting better and it’s translating to victories.
That’s not always the case, though, and the Summit Christian Academy girls basketball team would be a good example. Eagles head coach Danielle Vandyke can see her team getting better, no doubt in her mind, even if it ends up in a defeat.
Take Tuesday night against a quality Metro Academy squad. The two teams met back in December and the Mavericks were dominant, winning by 32, as the game was never close.
But a 55-35 defeat Tuesday told a different story, as the Eagles (7-13) led going into the second quarter, trailed by just 10 at the half and got as close as 12 in the fourth quarter.
“That’s probably the best team we’ll see all year,” Vandyke said. “We played them earlier in the year and they were up by 30 most of the game. This is a small victory for us.”
At this point in the season, with district play starting Feb. 18, Vandyke will take small victories if they lead to bigger ones in the postseason.
“Against Pembroke Hill at the beginning of the year we lost by 33. We played them last Tuesday and lost by 13,” Vandyke said. “We’re seeing that progression. Our chemistry has come so far. It’s been great to see them come together.”
But on Feb. 12, Metro Academy’s talent proved to be too much to overcome. The Mavericks had size in the post in 6-foot freshman Taris Spani – who could also play on the perimeter – while also boasting some sharpshooters from the outside.
The Mavericks wound up connecting on eight three pointers in the game.
“They shoot lights out and they can drive,” said Eagle junior Brooke Jacobson, who led the team with 16 points. “It’s extremely frustrating (to guard them). You have to give them credit. We had our hands in their faces.”
Summit Christian’s defense was strong in the opening quarter, as they held an 8-7 lead before turnovers started to hurt them on offense.
Three straight turnovers to begin the second quarter led to six straight points for Metro Academy, but the Eagles were able to overcome that, eventually clawing back to within two at 15-13. But another stretch of three consecutive mistakes led to a 7-0 run and an eventual 24-14 halftime deficit.
As has happened throughout the season at times, the Eagles were patient on offense to a point before eventually getting a little out of control when nothing would develop.
“The defense they run is different than what we usually see. It’s pretty much a matchup zone,” Vandyke said. “We get to a point where we shoot because there’s nothing else to do. That turns the ball right back over.”
Added Jacobson, “We’ve had that issue. We get freaked out a little bit when we don’t get a good first look or we take that first look. We rush too much. … When you wait too long to score or shoot too early that hurts you. We have to find that happy medium.”
They started to find that happy medium late in the third quarter into the fourth, as well as picking up their defensive intensity, when they went on a 10-0 run to close the gap.
While it wasn’t enough against Metro, Vandyke and Jacobson are hopeful they can carry that over into district play Feb. 18 against Higginsville, where the Eagles will be the No. 6 seed.
“The past couple of games our intensity on defense has picked up and it’s gone over to our offense,” Jacobson said. “We have to come out with the same intensity and I think we can surprise some people.”