YELLOW SPRINGS — During a first-half timeout Saturday, Legacy girls basketball coach Mark Combs reminded his team of the importance of defense, while being patient on offense.
“If they can’t score, we’re in good shape,” he told them.
The Knights walked out of the Yellow Springs High School gym in better-than-good shape, holding the Bulldogs to less than half of their average point total in a 54-19 Metro Buckeye Conference win. Yellow Springs — which averaged 51 points per game prior to Saturday — shot just 11 percent from the field and made just three field goals in the first half and three in the second half.
“Defense travels as they say,” Combs said. “If you bring it defensively and you grab rebounds and they get one shot, you’re making them make difficult shots, I feel like it should relax you a little bit offensively where you’re not pressing.”
That’s exactly what happened as the Knights (11-1 overall, 5-0 MBC) turned a 10-4 game late in the first quarter into a 31-8 game at halftime. Legacy turned the ball over five times in the first quarter and missed myriad shots that normally fall for the sharp-shooting team.
Once they clamped down defensively, the offense returned. Emma Hess scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Francis Park added 12 points and seven rebounds, Caroline Kensinger seven points and seven rebounds, and Katie Leach and Kathleen Ahner five points and seven rebounds each.
“Our kids are really starting to buy into what we’re trying to do,” Combs said. “They’re getting it done. Right now our defense is pretty strong. It’s been good pretty much all year.”
Saturday was the second time this month the Knights held an opponent to less than 20 points (Middletown Christian scored 13 on Jan. 4) and the 10th straight game their opponent scored less than 40. The last time a team went for 40 or more was Yellow Springs, which scored 61 in a two-point loss to Legacy Dec. 7.
“They shot the ball really well (that game),” Combs said, adding that he has changed defenses. “Really tried to eliminate some of that penetration that we were giving up early in the season.”
Angie Smith scored eight for Yellow Springs (7-3 overall, 1-3 MBC), while Corinne Totty added seven and Aaliyah Longshaw four. The Bulldogs have struggled a bit since an 18-day COVID break at the end of December.
“Haven’t been able to shoot well,” Coach Nick Minnich said. “They played good defense. For us it’s just missing shots.”
In addition to shooting 11 percent from the field, the Bulldogs made just five of 14 free throws. They had two opportunities for three free throws and converted just one.
“Free throws killed us,” Minnich said. “We shoot it pretty well.”
Having played just 10 games, Minnich knows there is plenty of time for the Bulldogs to return to early season form.
“This isn’t the end of it,” he said. “We’ve got more games ahead of us.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.