Girls' basketball: Vanguard shines in home debut
The home fans finally got a chance to see The Vanguard School’s girls’ basketball team on Thursday. What they saw pretty much resembled how the Coursers played in their four road games: balanced scoring, a suffocating defense and an all-around strong effort.
Caitlin Bower scored a game-high 16 points in the blocks, Bailey Haist added 15 from the outside and the Coursers (5-0) got scoring from 11 players, while allowing just eight baskets in a 64-27 victory over Florence.
“That is probably the best team in 2A,” Florence coach Brandon Roe said. “We tried to replicate their pressure in practice, but it’s hard to adjust to that speed in a game. We gave them too many easy looks, and we need to get better in rebounding, but we played a really good team.”
Bower, a junior, set the offensive tempo with the quarter of her life, scoring 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first period. Her teammates routinely found her wide open as the Huskies defense concentrated on the Vanguard outside shooting game.
All of Bower’s field goals were within 10 feet, the last two of which came after grabbing offensive rebounds that triggered a 20-0 run over a span of nearly six minutes between the first and second quarters. That turned a 10-8 lead into a runaway. Florence (1-4) trimmed the deficit to 32-17 by halftime but never threatened the rest of the way.
“I feel like they were focused on our outside shooters, so it was easier for us to get inside to the basket,” Bower said. “We work a lot on getting outside shooting, inside shooting and being a balanced team. I just came out with the attitude that I needed to bring it for our first home game.”
Kenzie Gordon, the only returning starter from Florence’s team that upset its way as a No. 17 seed into the quarterfinals in last season’s 3A state tournament, led her team with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Through its first four games, Vanguard’s defense had allowed an average of 27.5 points, turning up the full-court pressure, causing turnovers and limiting chances by grabbing rebounds.
On Thursday, the Coursers hit their average, limiting the Huskies to 19.5 percent shooting and setting the tone on the boards early, recording 14 offensive rebounds in the first half and 22 overall.
“Our defense was really key,” Haist said. “If our offense isn’t coming around, we get our intensity on defense, to just get in their face and not let them score easily. We were a little rough at the beginning, but as we get going, we’ll improve and we’re all looking forward to the rest of the season.”