Missing four starters didn’t stop the Sweeny Lady Bulldogs from finding a way to win at home, going all out in a 53-37 victory Friday over the Danbury Lady Panthers.
“I think we started putting more effort in hustling and not trying to conserve energy and just trusting we’ll call timeout if we see they need a break,” Sweeny head coach Dwayne Stevens said. “Going into these games with a six-man roster, a lot of times they think they have to conserve energy on defense, and we tell them it’s better on offense by being patient and defense give us everything you’ve got.”
That relentless effort by the Lady Dog defense forced 23 turnovers, creating opportunities for transition points and getting to the free-throw line. Sophomore guard Asha Strauther in particular took advantage, but her tenacity made Sweeny’s roster even thinner for a time.
Early in the fourth quarter, Strauther tried to split two defenders on the perimeter and awkwardly fell to the hardwood. Her injury left the Lady Bulldogs with just five healthy players to preserve a 45-32 lead with seven minutes to play.
A steal by sophomore guard Ashley Dailey led to a quick transition bucket to make it 47-33, and the Lady Bulldogs kept Danbury at bay the rest of the way, with Strauther’s late return helping seal the effort.
The Lady Panthers led 15-12 after one quarter, holding the Lady Bulldogs to only two field goals in the first 8 minutes. Sweeny kept it close by drawing fouls and hitting 6-of-10 from the foul line in the opening period. Lady Dogs finished 14-of-22 from the line, while Danbury was 5-of-12.
“We told our guards, ‘We’re going to have to be more aggressive today than we usually are,’” Stevens said. “We normally like to get the ball in and work it from the inside out, but we told our guards we’re going to have to attack the basket a little more than what we’re used to, and by doing that get to the free-throw line.”
The Lady Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run in the first three minutes of the second quarter on their way to a 33-24 advantage at intermission. Sweeny’s work on the backboards helped fuel the transition game, with forward Madison Roman snagging nine rebounds to go with four points in the first half.
Lady Panther wing Carsen Harris had six points and six rebounds at the half.
Strauther hit a 3-pointer to start the third quarter, then forced a steal and fed Dailey for a lay-in. Danbury, which had the rebounding edge for the game 38-36, created second-chance opportunities but couldn’t convert them into points.
“Our girls di d awesome getting their rebounds and boxing out. They did an awesome job, and sooner or later our shots will fall,” Danbury head coach Julie Sample said.
Strauther led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. Roman contributed four points and 12 rebounds while freshman Alecia King had six points, seven rebounds and two assists. Dailey had 10 points.
Harris led the Lady Panthers with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jordyn Rutkowske added six points and eight rebounds, and Kamryn Grace racked up two points and nine rebounds.
Sweeny’s next game will be at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Louise. Danbury will travel to play Van at 6 p.m. Tuesday.