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Lady Crusaders ride defense to 41-26 win

Steals and success often go hand in hand for Lady Crusader basketball.
St. John (12-5) piled up 20 steals in a 41-26 win over 3A Burton Academy on Thursday in the Kaman Christmas Classic. Burton could only muster six points in the opening half as the home team seized control to win despite the absence of starting guard Amy Daigle.
“The girls came out and played a good defensive game to hold Burton down,” said coach Cody O’Daniel.
Hannah Patton drilled a trio of three-pointers as she finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five steals. Carli Bragg was also a force with 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and four steals. Several other players did some damage, including Jennifer Maliska (four points, three rebounds, three assists, six steals), Samantha Pleiner (four points, six rebounds, assist, four steals) and Faith Clemons (four points, three rebounds, two blocks).
Points were quite hard to come by in a 7-4 first quarter, but Patton started off on the right foot with a three-pointer to open the game as she also hit a couple of free throws and made a steal. Maliska had two steals in the opening frame.
“I was excited to get the start and tried to push myself to play my best,” Patton said.
“For whatever reason my threes were going down today, so I was happy. Of course it felt good to be the first one to score when we got off to a tough start and it helped me get going.”
“Jennifer is a tough, hard-nosed competitor who plays with a lot of heart and she did a good job of running the point today,” O’Daniel added.
St. John essentially won the game in the second quarter, outscoring Burton 11-2.
Pleiner had two steals and often outworked the visitors, whether she was going after offensive rebounds or challenging shots inside. Patton hit another three off a Maliska pass and Bragg gave her team a boost with a couple of late baskets for an 18-6 advantage.
“Samantha is a hustle player who works hard at everything she does,” the coach said.
Hannah can put up big numbers when she’s on and she came up with a good game today.”
“We went to our man defense and really started pressuring Burton to create more points for ourselves,” Patton added.
“Even when we’re not playing our best, everyone tries to pull together and find a way to win.”
Burton’s offense finally arrived in the third quarter with some nice driving hoops, but Bragg was also going strong with four points, three steals and an assist.
Pleiner tallied consecutive baskets and snagged her own steal to help maintain the team’s 12-point lead.
“Carli played really well for us on offense and defense,” O’Daniel said.
“Burton did make some good halftime adjustments and capitalized on some scoring chances.”
Each team enjoyed its greatest offensive success in the fourth quarter as the Lady Crusaders notched four of their 10 assists and a whopping seven steals – including three thefts by Maliska.
Bragg really crashed the glass down the stretch. Burton pulled within seven at one point, but Patton had an answer with a big three off a Leslie Bell assist to put the game away.
“Late in the game we knew where the passes were going and everybody was ready to get steals,” Patton said.
“It’s important to improve our rebounding and make better passes.”
In their late game, the Lady Crusaders lost to a tough San Antonio Universal City First Baptist Academy team by a 52-34 margin.
“San Antonio got to scout us and we didn’t know much about them,” O’Daniel said.
“They just played us well, but we missed a lot of easy shots and our defense had an off-game. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and come back stronger [Friday] with a better defensive effort.”
The Lady Crusaders face Tyler Street Christian Academy today at 9:30 a.m. and with a victory they will compete in the consolation championship at 5 p.m.

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Posted by on Dec 28 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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