Before the game even began, there was a bad sign of things to come. The sign was Columbia Heritage player Dakota Evans, a 6-foot sophomore who played more like a seasoned senior than tenth grader. Dakota torched the Lady Knights for 14 quick, first-quarter points while leading Columbia to a convincing win.
The game got out of hand early with Heritage using their huge size advantage to bolt to a sizable lead. Once the Lady Knights got settled, though, their defense prevented a slaughter and actually turned the game around. When the Knights pressing and tough defense got going, Heritage was unable to get the ball inside to their center.
All of the Lady Knights really stepped up on defense. Bethany Fountain played excellent defense, forcing several side outs and turnovers. “Bethany is really maturing, especially on defense,” Coach Rider said. “She has really started to get comfortable with her role and her minutes are increasing over last year.”
Another key player to the defensive surge was Naomi Rider. She drew the assignment of guarding Evans in the second half and pretty much shut her down. Naomi even stuffed Evans shot on one play even though she is 6 inches shorter and two years younger. Maggie Belzer also contributed to shutting Evans down after her blazing start.
Danika Askew, Joy Tilinski, and Cambre Britt contributed numerous second-half steals to keep the game competitive. “We dictated the tempo in the second half,” Rider commented. “Next time we play, the game is going to have a completely different feel.”
The Knights play Heartland Friday (away) and will look to control the tempo. We will see Haritage again in Febuary at home.