Perhaps the most stubborn people on the planet are coaches.
Very few professions require so much preparation for one game or event, only to have things go completely different on game night and require a spur of the moment change from everything they’ve prepared for.
During a Division II Central District tournament girls basketball first-round game Monday, Feb. 20, it was the Jonathan Alder High School girls basketball team that benefited the most from an opposing coach’s unwillingness to make a change which led to a Lady Pioneers victory.
Sixteenth seeded Licking Valley’s 2-2-1 full-court pressure defense was shredded by the No. 8 Pioneers for the better part of the first half Monday, but instead of making an early change Valley coach Roderick Wood stuck with his original plan. Alder took full advantage, attacked the press and built a huge lead and coasted to a 65-38 post-season opening win.
With the victory the Lady Pioneers advanced to the second round where they will meet No. 2 London. The Pioneers and Red Raiders will square off Friday, Feb. 24, at London. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m.
As for the win Monday, Alder coach Bob Wehner was a little surprised Valley stayed in the press as long as it did, especially considering how easily the Pioneers were able to break it and get uncontested layups on the other end.
“I think we have some girls that are really good at looking up the floor and seeing what’s there and making good passes,” Wehner said. “We work a lot on that, we really haven’t had too many teams give us much trouble with their press, just because our guards are good enough, to make those plays.
“I was a little surprised they stayed in it as long as they did. I wasn’t disappointed, but I thought that maybe they would come out of it a little sooner than they did. But it clearly worked out for us.”
Alder (12-10) raced out to a 21-10 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to guards Lily Hess, Peyton Mast and Sydney Bourquin. The trio carved up the Valley defense with such precision. It routinely ended with layups on the offensive end for the likes of McKenna Huff (13 points), Emily Davis (six points) and Jillian Jakse (four points).
When they weren’t setting up their teammates for easy scores Bourquin (16 points) and Hess (12) were finding ways to score points for themselves.
Alder’s ability to play fast allowed it to build a 36-16 halftime advantage. That lead never dipped below 13 points in the second half.
“In the first half we played pretty good (defense), in the second half I thought we got a little bit lazy, we didn’t have the same intensity,” Wehner said.
He knows that his team will need a full four quarters of effort against a London team it lost 56-50 earlier this season.
“London is obviously a really good team, they’re the No. 2 seed. I thought we played them tough the first time,” Wehner said. “They’re a better team than they were the first time and I think we’re better too. We’ll see if we learned anything from playing them. They’re a tough team, they’re a good balanced team and it will be a challenge for us.
“They play good defense and they’ve got good shooters. If you don’t play good defense on them they’re going to make shots. We’ve got to make sure we’re playing tough. They’ve got good athletes, we might be a little bit bigger, but not by a whole lot. I think it’ll be an interesting game and match-up.”
The winner of the Alder-London game will advance to a D-II district semifinal to face wither No. 6 Eastmoor Academy or No. 20 Columbus East Feb. 28.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.