“Defense leads to offense” is a common cliché basketball coaches use to emphasize the importance of playing hard on the defensive end of the floor.
The Glenelg Country School girls basketball team proved the cliché true in its 48-39 win over Wilde Lake on Saturday. In the second half, the Dragons switched from a zone press to a man-to-man press, which forced several turnovers that led to key fourth-quarter 3-pointers from junior Caroline Haynes.
“We switched to a man press, and we were able to create some turnovers,” said Glenelg Country School coach Will Harper. “… Those (3-pointers) were huge. What’s more important about her shooting is when she makes them. She makes them when we need a pick-me-up, and she always hits big shots for us.”
The turnovers directly led to a Dragons offense that scored 18 points in the final period. Wilde Lake (0-1) struggled to get to its half-court offense because of the press, and the forced turnovers were often followed by a Haynes 3-pointer or an Ashlyn Bender layup.
“We were trying to explain to them that when there is a man press, once you get the ball in, everyone clears out,” said Wilde Lake head coach Rhonda Corkeron. “But they were thinking we were still running our zone press break, and that led to us being discombobulated.”
Haynes, who led GCS (3-2) with 20 points, was 6 of 12 from behind the arc, including four made 3s in the final period. Bender, meanwhile, chipped in with 13 points and was often making smart plays on both offense and defense.
“When we’re in crunch time, I know she’ll be there and I can pass it to her and I am pretty confident she’ll knock it down,” Bender said of Haynes. “We really count on her.”
“I also have full confidence in Ashlyn,” Haynes said. “We look for each other on the court. We’ve been playing together for a while, and I think we have a good connection.”
The Dragons’ defense held Wilde Lake to four made shots in the entire second half and held Kalani Corkeron, the Wildecats’ top player who scored 15 points in the first half, to six points — all from the free-throw line — in the final two periods.
“We really talked about Kalani on the other team, and we knew she was a really good shooter and good player,” Haynes said. “We wanted to lock her down, and she didn’t have any field goals in the second half. Stopping her gave the team energy, and we were able to build off that.”
Prior to the fourth quarter, the contest at Wilde Lake High School was an even one. Neither team held a lead of more than five points, and the three quarters finished with scores of 10-6 (GCS), 21-21 and 31-30 (Wilde Lake), respectively.
Despite the loss, Wilde Lake coach Rhonda Corkeron thinks her young team showed it has potential. The Wildecats are coming off a 1-20 campaign, but they return all five starters, including Kalani Corkeron (12.5 points per game in 2018-19).
Aside from Kalani Corkeron’s 21-point, eight-rebound performance, the Wildecats were also led by sophomore forward Mia Swaby-Rowe, who filled up the box score with eight points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
“I think for the girls who are here from last year, they realize it’s crowded on the bench,” Rhonda Corkeron said. “We only had eight players last season, and this year we have 12. We are quietly confident that we will do a lot better than last year.”
After a slow first quarter for the Wildecats, Kalani Corkeron found her form from behind the arc in the second quarter. The senior guard scored 11 points in the period, including three 3-pointers.
“She can score at all three levels, and she can create her own shot,” Harper said. “She’s mean, and she’s strong. She can do it all.”
After an even third quarter, Haynes, Bender and the Dragons’ tough defense opened the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run en route to their third triumph of the season.
Glenelg Country is back in action Monday at River Hill, while Wilde Lake’s next game is Wednesday at Glenelg.
Glenelg Country School 48, Wilde Lake 39
GCS (3-2): C. Haynes 20, A. Bender 14, N. O’Ferrall 7, R. Byrne 5, B. Byrne 2.
WL (0-1): K. Corkeron 21, M. Swaby-Rowe 8, C. Zimmerman 6, B. Floyd 2, L. Richards 2.