Off t o a good start at the Robert “Bob” Ducroz Memorial Basketball Tournament, the Columbia Lady ’Necks won both games on Thursday through a press defense that never let up against Santa Fe or Tidehaven.
Columbia improved to 3-0 on the young season and returns to the court Saturday for the second half of the tournament, which will be bracket play.
It was a come from behind victory against the Lady Indians in the opening contest, 48-37 behind 20 points, seven steals and five rebounds from junior Kirsten Bragg.
“She is high wired just going 100 miles an hour, so calming her down is only going to help her,” Columbia Lady ’Neck coach Brett Nidey said. “She is also very physical with good size and at times can be hard to handle.”
Down 10-8 after eight minutes of play, the Lady ’ Necks were outscored 13-2 in the second period as they committed 12 turnovers and were 1-for-11 from the field.
Santa Fe point guard Cam Bloomfield took advantage of the sloppiness from the Lady Roughnecks in the second quarter to score nine points with two 3-pointers.
Columbia had 29 turnovers in the contest, 19 of those coming in the first half alone.
“In that first game in the first half, I know we weren’t scoring to much, but I thought that press really wore down Santa Fe eventually,” Nidey said.
Columbia never let up on the press, even when they were going through difficult times. The second half was a different story as they outscored the Lady Indians, 38-14.
Columbia’s press forced the Lady Indians to commit 26 turnovers in the second half on the game to finish with 41 total.
“We played sloppy at times but I thought we pressed, pushed the ball and just tried getting up and down the floor,” Nidey said. “I need athletes to do that and this year seems to be one of those years that we do. We were sloppy because we are young but these girls hustled.”
Bragg scored 16 of her 20 in the second half as she calmed down on her shooting, taking her time and making buckets. Kate Kondra also came through with nine points. She scored all of them in the second half with sophomore KeKe Lewis contributing seven points.
“I was impressed with KeKe on the press, she really got after it as well,” Nidey said.
COLUMBIA 36, TIDEHAVEN 26
In a low-scoring affair against the Lady Tigers, the Lady ’Necks received a blow when Bragg left the floor early in the second period with a twisted ankle.
The Lady Necks were ahead 14-5, but were outscored 10-5 before halftime as the Lady Tigers pulled within six points. Columbia’s Myriah Wessells had a big 3-pointer right before the half as Tidehaven came within a 17-15 deficit.
Bragg did return for the start of the second half and scored all nine points in the third period as Columbia’s press continued to rattle the Lady Tigers.
“When we face someone with good guards it will be different but if we continue to improve on this press it will give teams a headache,” Nidey said.
Wessells was impressive with her pressure on Tidehaven’s point guard from the start, disrupting her all game long.
“She’s like a track runner and is quick and fast,” Nidey said. “She’s not one of the tallest but she really gets into that press and just hounds someone.”
Tidehaven finished with 38 turnovers in the game committing 19 in each half.
Bragg finished with another 24 points in the win.