Woodlawn's Brittany Taylor has a simple explanation for her team's emphasis on defense: "Defense wins games. Offense sells tickets."
With hot shooting and even hotter defense, No. 2 Woodlawn blitzed host Walbrook, 95-57, in last night's Class 4A North regional girls basketball quarterfinal.
Woodlawn (21-0) shot 58 percent from the field and forced 28 turnovers as it began its quest for a return trip to the state final four and a run at its first state title. In tomorrow's semifinal, Woodlawn will play host to Parkville, a 51-25 winner yesterday over Southwestern.
Last night, Tiara Wildy had the hot hand, shooting 11-for-16 with five three pointers for a game-high 28 points. Four teammates also scored in double figures - Taylor with 16; Candice Britton, 15; Kim Carr, 11; and Joy Clark, 10.
But all that offense came thanks to a swarming press and a quick-moving zone defense.
"Our defense is tough," said Taylor, who also had six steals and six assists. "We have a lot of different options, a lot of different ways to stop people."
Woodlawn pressed Walbrook into big trouble right from the start, forcing 11 first-quarter turnovers and fueling a 25-13 lead. Eleven Woodlawn points came off turnovers in the first quarter alone.
"We had pressure turnovers, too many. We were rushing," said Walbrook's Renee Jones. "They double-teamed me a lot and I rushed a lot. None of my players would come to get the ball."
Jones, a versatile swing player averaging 23.4 points, drew a lot of attention from the Woodlawn defenders, several of whom play with her on the same Amateur Athletic Union team. She still staged a fine shooting display, hitting 11 of 19 shots and finishing with 27 points.
"She's a friend off the court, but on the court we still have to play her," said Wildy, one of Jones' AAU teammates. "We did everything but Renee still had a good game. She's a tough player and she has a good all-around game."
Still, Jones couldn't carry her young team to a victory despite also contributing 10 rebounds and seven steals.
"That's the difference between her team and our team," said Wildy. "We don't have just one player who can score. Everybody can score."
Woodlawn got 25 points off the bench; Walbrook didn't get a single one.
Jones, who did get some help from Tabatha Timmons with 14 points, has carried Walbrook to a 12-10 record.
While the Woodlawn players move on, Walbrook coach Yolanda Jackson lauded her players for coming so far despite the unexpected loss of three of last year's starters, two of them during the season.