There’s two ways to create extra opportunities for a basketball team.
One is to take your misses and get them right back, getting another time to get a shot off.
Another is to swipe the ball from your opponent before they even get a chance to put up their shot.
With the AV-CTL I title on the line Tuesday night, both Maize and Newton found a way to get extra chances, but it was Maize that wound up with just enough to squeak out a 39-36 victory and seal the outright division championship.
“Our girls just thrive on our defensive pressure,” said Maize coach Jerrod Handy, whose team forced 19 turnovers and scored 17 points off them. “We get a lot of our points from our defense. Newton usually controls the tempo and doesn’t turn it over much. You have to give it to our girls, we got our hands up and made some big plays.”
The pressure started in the first half as the Eagles got back into the game, but after a clean third quarter, they needed some more big plays late.
Up by three at one point, Maize watched as Kyndal Bacon and Taylor Antonowich nailed back-to-back three-pointers to give Newton a 36-35 lead, but Brecken Roe’s sixth steal of the night came a minute later, and the senior finished at the other end to put the Eagles up.
A Maize turnover gave the ball back, but Roe swiped another pass and found Caitlyn Stewart to make it a three-point lead with 34 seconds to play. One more steal by Roe helped ice it, and although Newton got the ball back, they only managed a tough look at the potential tying three-pointer, which skipped harmlessly away.
“We just knew we had to get stops on defense,” said Roe, who finished with 14 points and eight steals. “Defensive stops will be the start to our offense. Coach always says defense is the beginning.”
Prowess on the offensive glass got Newton off to a fast start. The Railers grabbed six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone, and each of their first three field goals were on putbacks, as they took an early 6-2 lead.
Maize countered with an aggressive defense that forced 10 of its 19 turnovers out of the guests in the first half, with Roe picking up five steals and the Eagles converting four of them into fastbreak buckets to help pull to a one-point deficit at 21-20 at the break.
NEWTON: Antonowich 5, Bacon 6, Berry 2, Schmidt 11, Akers 2, Kernal 10.
MAIZE: Roe 14, Stewart 14, Holmes 2, Jones 2, Cauthon 7.