By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON January 9, 2007 Going into Friday night’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV basketball game, the John S. Burke Catholic High School Lady Eagles and the host Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs were each undefeated within the division.
Burke was 2-0 in Division IV contests this season, while SW had a 3-0 record in Division IV.
So, as one might expect, the first quarter was close and competitive. At the end of those eight minutes, SW enjoyed an 11-8 lead.
But in the second quarter, Burke (6-0, 3-0 Division IV) stepped up its defensive intensity. The Lady Eagles outscored the Lady Bulldogs 18 to 2 in the frame to take a commanding 26-13 advantage at halftime.
The only points SW (6-3, 3-1 Division IV) could manage in that second quarter were a pair of foul shots by junior forward Sarah Lander with 6:04 remaining until the intermission.
Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, Burke maintained its defensive intensity in the second half. The Lady Eagles converted numerous steals and SW turnovers into easy baskets on the other end of the court.
When the final buzzer sounded, Burke had recorded a 40-23 victory.
Junior forward Emily Stallings gave the Lady Eagles the lead for good when she made a 15-foot jump shot with 5:35 remaining in the second quarter.
Burke expanded its lead to 21 points at 37-16 late in the third period. With 2:14 on the clock, Lady Eagle junior guard Katie Grahn was fouled while driving to the hoop. Grahn made the basket and then swished her subsequent free throw.
SW outscored Burke, 6-3, in the fourth quarter to slightly narrow the Lady Eagles’ advantage.
Senior forward Chelsea Gallagher led a balanced scoring attack for Burke. She recorded a game-high 12 points. Sophomore forward Megan Rufer had seven points for the Lady Eagles, while Gough and Stallings each added six points.
Pacing the SW offense were Lander and sophomore center Rachel Houghtaling, each of whom netted 10 points.
“The second quarter was big for us,” Burke Coach Bob Turner said. “We were able to get some easy baskets off of our press.
“Our 2-1-2 press was very effective,” he added. “We were able to prevent Sullivan West from running some of its offensive sets.”
SW Coach Ron Bernhardt noted that Burke’s defensive intensity caused problems for his relatively young team.
“They took us out of our game mentally,” he said. “They defended us very well.
“They’re a tough team and an experienced team,” Bernhardt added.
Obviously the veteran coach was hoping for a different outcome in the game. But he chose to look on the bright side. He pointed out that the Lady Bulldogs have plenty of games to play yet this season, including another contest versus the Lady Eagles.
“In the past, we have had teams peaking at this time of the season,” Bernhardt said. “But this team is far from peaking. We have time to improve and we’ll get there.”