HENDERSONVILLE - A smothering defense by the Beech Lady Buccaneers forced numerous turnovers by the Gallatin Lady Wave on the way to a 56-35 win in District 9-AAA action on Tuesday.
“I liked that we came out in the first half and defensively took over the game,” Beech head coach Kristi Utley said. The defensive pressure “turned into a lot of easy buckets for us.”
No matter what else is going on the game, Utley said. “We can always play defense.” And Beech’s defense triggers their offense, she said.
The Lady Bucs converted numerous Gallatin turnovers into points as the built a 19-7 lead after the first quarter.
Junior post player Laci Walmer scored eight of her game-high 14 points in the first quarter. “Laci Walmer came out in the first quarter and got us off to a good start,” Utley said. “And Riley Long, our other post player, was good in the boards too.”
The lead ballooned to 22 points in the second quarter as Beech took a 36-14 lead into the half.
“They’re aggressiveness and defensive pressure, they turned us over a bunch,” Gallatin head coach Jerry Landers said. “That was key. We didn’t handle it very well.”
“At the half, we talked about focusing in on what we’re supposed to be doing,” Landers said. He wanted his team to limit Beech from running the floor for easy baskets, he said. “I thought we did a better job in the second half.”
Gallatin trimmed the deficit to 17 points in the second half but could get no closer.
“I thought our starting five played well,” Utley said. “It was a team effort. We had girls come off the bench and did some good things for us.”
Utley praised the defensive work of sophomore Bri Ellis. “She’s the best defensive player, I think, you’re going to find around here.”
Ellis usually draws the assignment of guarding the other team’s best offensive player and most the time holds them to single digits, Utley said. “She’s quick as a cat and just smart.”
Walmer led all scorers with 14 points and Beech senior Deshiya Hoosier added 10 for the Lady Bucs. A’Niya Boone and Janaya Newsom led Gallatin with 8 points each.
The win improved Beech’s record to 13-1 and 3-0 in the district. The Lady Bucs stand atop the district standings and are ranked in the top 10 in the state.
Beech will visit Mt. Juliet on Friday for another district contest. “We just want to continue the defensive effort,” Utley said.
Gallatin’s record fell to 13-3 on the season and 2-1 in the district. They will host Wilson Central on Friday.
“They’re a tough team with a little bit of size,” Landers said. “We’re going to try to get back to taking care of the basketball.”
Girls Box Score:
Beech (56) Laci Walmer 14, Deshiya Hoosier 10, Bri Ellis 8, Mia Dean 7, Natasia Jones 6, Jana Claire Swafford 4, Kyndal Chenault 4, Riley Long 2, Ryleigh Piotto 1.
Gallatin (35) A’Niya Boone 8, Janaya Newsom 8, Jo’Neca Talley 7, Cialife Carter 4, Talor Crenshaw 3, Jeremia Montgomery 3, Sania Ricks 2.