The City defense helped its struggling offense get moving early in Friday's game against Western Tech. That offense had played inconsistently at times recently, but City's defense caused 15 first-half turnovers.
Those miscues helped the Black Knights race to a 28-point halftime lead and eventually roll to a 65-20 victory over Western Tech in the 20th annual Baltimore City Public Schools Basketball Academy tournament at Morgan State.
City coach Rolynda Contee said her team didn't know much about Western Tech, but wanted to focus on finding good shots early and taking the lead. Contee had her girls use full-court presses and tough man-to-man traps that often forced the Wolverines to make bad passes that City either intercepted or knocked away.
"We thrive and strive off of steals [and] turnovers," Contee said. "The defense gets us going. We were trying to get a good shot early."
The Black Knights forced nine first-quarter turnovers, miscues that City often turned into points in some form. There was more of the same in the second period as Western Tech turned the ball over six times, and City again turned many of those miscues into points.
It's why City scored the final 25 points of the first half and rolled to a 32-4 lead at the break. Western Tech simply could not get its offense moving because the Black Knights kept disrupting it.
The mistakes often came on bad passes or other plays that the pressure brought on. In that first half, City pressured Western Tech in different spots all over the court and while the Wolverines handled it well at times, they could not do it consistently enough.
That's why they made just two baskets and got only those four points. The Wolverines scored 16 points in the second half as City eased up on the defensive pressure, and they began shooting a little better. But it was much too little, too late.
"We've been off lately, so it's a good game for us to back into rhythm," City forward/center Nkeiruka Okororie said. "We had to pick up our defense. We knew if we did that, it would help our offense."
Okororie and teammate Alanica Bell led the winners with 10 points apiece. Contee emptied her bench early and often with 11 City players scoring points. The Black Knights needed just under five minutes to score the final 13 points of the first quarter for a 20-4 lead.
In the second quarter, the Black Knights scored all 12 points. Western Tech finally ended its dry spell of 14 minutes, 10 seconds when Madison Leggette scored on a put-back 58 seconds into the second half. The Wolverines showed more semblance of an offense at times in the second half, but never really set up anything on a consistent basis.
Ashley Gourdine led Western Tech with 11 points, and the Wolverines finished with eight baskets.