Even after his team earned its second double-digit victory of the season against Heights on Tuesday, Kapaun Mount Carmel girls coach Billy Graf described it as an “escape.”
A win against the Falcons tends to feel that way, as Heights seldom dials back its relentless defense.
“It was tough against their diamond-and-one,” said Kapaun senior Sam Bachrodt, who finished with 12 points in the host Crusaders’ 44-32 victory. “It was a pretty rough game. It was a grind.”
Bachrodt was the focal point of Heights’ specialized defense, shadowed closely for much of the game by sophomore transfer Jaelynn McLaurian. Bachrodt, who entered the game averaging 16.8 points, made just two field goals but also hit 8 of 10 free throws.
Kapaun (8-2, 8-1 City League) also got a team-high 14 points from freshman Brenna Monty. The Crusaders never trailed after Monty’s three-pointer gave Kapaun a 12-10 lead early in the second quarter, but only led by six points with 2:34 to play.
“This didn’t feel as one-sided as the final score shows,” Heights coach Kip Pulliam said. “I thought we executed our defense pretty well. We gave them a few extra shots, and they got some buckets off them. Then we couldn’t score.”
Heights (6-4, 5-4), which lost to Kapaun 39-25 in the season opener, started strong behind junior Athena Alvarado. Alvarado scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half on 5-of-5 shooting as the Falcons trailed 17-14 at the break.
But Heights, which was plagued by 23 turnovers in the first meeting with Kapaun, struggled again offensively. The Falcons attempted just 21 shots in the final three quarters Tuesday while committing 16 turnovers.
“I’m usually pretty happy with our defense,” Graf said. “I think they’re really starting to buy into our half-court stuff and that’s exciting. They’re so athletic and so smart.”
Neither team made it an offensive masterpiece. Kapaun shot 28.6 percent (12 of 42) while Heights finished at 32.4 percent (11 of 34). Both coaches received technical fouls in the third quarter, which finished with Kapaun up 29-22.
Heights continued to challenge in the final quarter, as Analyss Benally hit two three-pointers. But Kapaun scored 13 of its 15 points in the fourth on free throws, with Bachrodt making 5 of 6 and Monty 4 of 4.
“The thing against Heights is you have to outsmart them,” Bachrodt said. “You just have to slow down.
“They do that press, and you’ve got to hold your composure and move the ball. I think that’s the key.”
Heights – Benally 8, Alvarado 16, Conley 2, McLaurian 6.
Kapaun – Born 6, Monty 14, Hagan 5, Bachrodt 12, Roulston 4, Dreiling 1, Lickteig 2.