When the Heights girls basketball team was fully energized, coach Kip Pulliam found very little to criticize in its 47-34 victory over Derby on Thursday night at Koch Arena.
The problem was the Falcons (5-2) fatigued quickly and that’s when Pulliam found a litany of mistakes to pick at in his post-game speech to the team.
“We’ve got to get in better shape,” Pulliam said. “When we got tired, we made mistakes and didn’t do the little things that gave us the lead.”
It was far from a tidy performance from Heights. It made only a third of its two-point shots, which led to 29.8-percent shooting in total. It turned the ball over 13 times. Its typical manic defense wasn’t as fiery at times.
“That’s conditioning,” senior Athena Alvarado said. “That’s something easy to fix in practice. I think we’re going to be doing a lot of running, but that’s OK. I think this was a good win.”
That’s because Heights turned in a spectacular offensive rebounding effort.
Derby (3-4) coach Jodie Karsak gambled by solely relying on a zone defense, knowing it would leave her team vulnerable to offensive rebounds.
It worked for the opening six minutes, as Derby built a 12-9 lead. But behind 25 offensive rebounds, which afforded Heights 22 more shot attempts than Derby, the Falcons led by double-digits by the second quarter and never relinquish it.
In one third-quarter possession alone, Heights grabbed five offensive rebounds to put up six shots before Derby touched the ball again.
“We just got killed rebounding,” Karsak said. “Everybody knows it’s tough to rebound out of a zone, but we’ve got to do a better job of finding somebody on the weak side and boxing them out or else it’s going to be a putback every time.”
Alvarado, who led Heights with six offensive rebounds, produced a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Derby’s Grace Mitchell (13 points) was the only other scorer in double-figures in the game.
While Pulliam was displeased with some aspects of his team’s victory, he admitted there was a good portion of the game he enjoyed.
None more than watching his team crash the offensive glass.
“We showed a lot of heart and desire,” Pulliam said. “That’s what rebounding and defense is all about. That’s what we’ve been pushing the last two weeks. You can always play defense and rebound, no matter how bad you’re shooting.”
HEIGHTS: Lowe 2, Benally 9, McLaurian 5, Watson 4, Alvarado 11, Straughter 1, Conley 8, Patrick 3, Powell 4.
DERBY: Young 6, Steinert 3, Greiving 2, Mills 3, Mitchell 13, Woods 4, Henry 0, Gee 3.
North girls 58, Arkansas City 50 —Aliyah Bernard led three North players in double-figures with 22 points, as Danisha Brown added 12 and Imani Jones chipped in 10.
North (3-4) outscored the Bulldogs 16-4 in the second quarter for a nine-point halftime lead it never allowed to slip. Ark City (1-6) was led in scoring by Kaitlyn Potter with 21 points.
NORTH: Evans 7, Bernard 22, Martinez 2, Brown 12, Jones 10, Moose 3, Condit 2.
ARK CITY: Potter 21, Womack 10, Salas 2, Stewart 5, Weathers 6, Smith 6.