Warriors rely on defense to improve to 8-1
The Tonganoxie Warriors seventh-grade girls basketball team made a defensive statement against Piper on Thursday: To win, the Pirates would have to break the full-court press.
Piper couldn't overcome the defensive challenge.
Tonganoxie pressed Piper and created several turnovers -- Jennifer Whitledge had five steals alone -- in the 34-9 victory at the middle school gymnasium.
The Warriors improved to 8-1 with the victory.
Of the eight games the Warriors have won, seven have been by 20 points or more.
"We've been starting slow the last couple of games," Warriors coach Mark Mall said. "What I liked is we pressed hard and made some nice passes."
The Warriors dominated the game from the opening bucket. They scored 14 points before the Pirates converted their first field goal. Tonganoxie led, 14-3, at halftime.
Jo Kissinger scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and established solid position underneath the basket throughout the game.
One of Tonganoxie's nicest designed plays came off an inbounds pass in the third quarter. The Warriors lined up in a horizontal line near the foul line. Each player broke a different way, which confused the Piper defense. Kissinger was the last player to run her route. She broke toward the basket and found an opening.
Easy pass. Easy layup.
"She did a good job of seeing and finding the opening," Mall said of Kissinger. "If you looked, the pass was right where it should have been. It wasn't late. (Kissinger) does a good job of working inside. We had a lot of unselfish passes."
It seemed Tonganoxie's only missed opportunity came after the final buzzer. With time running down in the final quarter, Whitledge squared up about two feet beyond the three-point arc and drained the shot. It was close, but the referees determined time expired before Whitledge let go of the shot. The Warriors bench and Mall shared a laugh with Whitledge as she walked toward the bench.
"It was a little late, but it was a nice shot," Mall said. "At this age, the fact she shot it and made it is good. Afterwards, one of the girls said, 'One too many dribbles.' She was at least aware of the clock and squared up."
Point guard Hannah Kemp added four points, five rebounds and three steals. Olivia Hollingsworth added six points and Madee Walker scored four points and had three steals.
The Warriors have five remaining games on the schedule.
Nov. 13 victory at Perry
Tonganoxie defeated Perry, 32-9, Tuesday on the road.
The Warriors led, 13-6, at the half. Whitledge had 11 of the 13 points. She finished with 16.
Kissinger added 14 and Rachael Washington had the other two. Kemp added 6 assists. The seventh-grade B team also won, 11-10, on Nov. 11, courtesy of a late three-pointer by Savannah Bailey.
Tonganoxie Warriors 7th-grade A team results:
Clark: W 35-14
Leavenworth West: W 48-14
Eudora: W 17-9
Patton: W 35-16
Xavier: W 56-6
Linwood W 28-12
Monticello L 31-27
Perry: W 32-9
Piper: W 34-9