By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON OK, who nailed a lid on the rim of the basketball hoop?
That was the question for Sullivan West Coach Ron Bernhardt in the wake of Tuesday night’s 34-24 loss to the visiting John S. Burke Catholic High School Lady Eagles in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV game as his team was held to single digits in every quarter of the game.
The Lady Bulldogs posted the first basket about midway through the opening quarter. But Burke (8-7, 6-2 Div. IV) tied it up at 2-2 at the 4:30 mark. The Lady Eagles then finished the stanza with a 7-0 run to take a 9-2 lead at the end of those first eight minutes of competition.
In the second period, SW (11-7, 4-3 Div. IV) battled back with a rapid-fire basket and a 3-point shot to shave Burke’s lead to four points (11-7).
However, the Lady Eagles led 16-11 at halftime.
Junior center Katrina Graby brought the Lady Bulldogs to within a point early in the third quarter. But then the proverbial lid on the rim closed once again as her teammates couldn’t get their shots to fall through the net and Burke kept limiting the Lady Bulldogs’ chances at getting a good look at the basket.
With 2:40 left in the game, SW senior guard Ella MacDonald made a pair of free throws to cut the Lady Eagles’ lead to five points.
But seconds later Burke’s Stephanie Naru converted two shots at the free-throw line, putting her team back up by seven points at 29-22.
Graby was SW’s top scorer with nine points, while senior guard Lindsey Murphy netted five points.
Naru and Amanda Lynch paced the Burke offense with seven points each.
Stats from the free throw line: SW was 7-of-11 (64 percent) and Burke was 11-of-21 (52 percent).
“I thought both teams really struggled with continuity and execution,” Burke Coach Bob Turner said.
“I knew we had to separate [Katrina] Graby from the basket, give [Lindsey] Murphy, who’s a great 3-point shooter, many [defensive] looks and keep Sullivan West out of their sets.”
The Lady Eagles’ game plan worked, as their switches in defensive tactics disrupted the Lady Bulldogs.
SW was also hampered by the absence of senior center Rachel Houghtaling, who is currently on the ineligible list.
As the Lady Bulldogs gear up for the Section IX Class B Tournament, Bernhardt is analyzing his squad.
“We’re a team that’s psychologically looking for ways to lose games, because they don’t have that confidence,” he said.