South’s girls basketball teams scored four points in the second quarter, and center Kendrian Elliott reached her breaking point. And her breaking-out point.
Flustered by Heights’ triple-team coverage, even when she didn’t have the ball, South’s 6-foot-3 sophomore was initially unsure of how to fight back. But Elliott abandoned that passiveness in the second half, illustrated when she demanded the ball on the Titans’ first third-quarter possession.
Elliott scored on that possession and on many subsequent ones. She scored 18 of her 20 points after halftime and grabbed 12 rebounds in South’s 48-15.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Elliott said. “It’s pretty hard work, but I knew that my team was either going to give me the ball or we were going to score (another) way. I know that my team is going to get it, so I wasn’t really worried about it. But still, it’s pretty hard trying to” fend off multiple defenders.
South led 15-7 after the first quarter, making 6 of 9 shots. The Titans’ patience added up to efficiency, as most of their scoring occurred after lengthy possessions. South used 48 seconds before Ericka Mattingly’s left-wing jump shot delivered the game’s first points.
That restraint kept Elliott mostly out of the loop, as she was unable to serve as a facilitator from the high post and unable to dominate much smaller defenders from the block. After the teams combined for seven points in the second quarter, Elliott apparently became drained from the slow-down efforts.
As South’s guards were once again passing the ball around the perimeter, Elliott shouted “Ball!” as she set up just outside the lane. She was mollified almost immediately, scored just as quickly, and a trend was established.
“It’s pretty hard work to get around three or four defenders,” Elliott said. “So whenever I’m in the perfect position, I would like them to pass me the ball. They usually do a pretty good job with that, but I understand the hesitation, because I had multiple people around me.
“I was just trying to draw their attention so they knew that I was open so I could get it.”
Even though Elliott’s eagerness prompted a change in plans, South could afford to be patient because of its defense.
Heights’ swarming of Elliott produced a low-scoring contest with the Falcons seemingly controlling the tempo, but as Heights labored to score, it became clear that South was in charge.
Heights scored to make it 17-9 in the second quarter, but that was the Falcons’ last basket. They went without one for the final 21 minutes, 13 seconds as Elliott took over. She scored the last three baskets of the third quarter and South’s first six points of the fourth.
“I think once I got over the double- and triple-team, I realized I could do it, and my teammates realized it,” Elliott said. “When I drew attention to me, that’s when the cutters started going. We just found new ways to get the ball the basket, then we started flowing as a team and everything got better.”