Defense spurs Lady M's to 2nd at Winter Carnival
Homer High School head coach Chad Felice had a simple explanation for the Lady Mariners' ability to rundown the Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves on Saturday in the second-place game at the 2018 Homer Winter Carnival Basketball Tournament. Defense made it all possible.
Keyed by a defense that forced 14 turnovers and held Mt. Edgecumbe to just 13 points in the final two quarters of play, the Lady Mariners pounded out a 32-27 victory and finished the three-day, round-robin tournament with a 2-1 record.
"For us, it started on the defensive side of the ball," said Felice. "That's kind of our bread and butter. Tonight, they played excellent defense, and that helped us win."
A perennial state power, Mt. Edgecumbe battled its way to a 25-25 tie at the start of the fourth quarter. Autumn Beans buried a three-point shot early in the frame to erase the Lady Mariners' slim lead.
Freshman Anna Godfrey came up big for Homer from there. She took a pass inside and turned it into a layup and a foul. She converted the ensuing free throw opportunity and gave the Lady Mariners a 28-25 lead with 7:09 left in the contest.
Brystel Charlie pulled the Lady Braves to within striking distance late in the fourth by turning a steal into a breakaway layup. Her basket cut Homer's lead to one, at 28-27.
That turned out to be as close as Mt. Edgecumbe could get. The Homer defense held Mt. Edgecumbe to just one shot from the field in the final 3:35 minutes of play.
Senior Maggie Box gave the Lady Mariners some breathing room with 26 seconds left by converting two attempts from the free throw line. Todd tacked on two more 14 seconds later to cement the victory.
"We played with a great defensive intensity tonight," sad Todd, who finished the game with seven points offensively. "We knew it (the game against Mt. Edgecumbe) was going to be tough but we came out and did it as a team. There's just a great chemistry on the defensive side."
The Lady Braves, who finished third in the tournament standings, managed to scratch out enough offense in the first quarter to take the early advantage. Tyra Brown and Tessa Coopchiak combined for six points in the first six minutes of play and led MEHS to a 6-6 tie. Coopchiak sank a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left in the opening frame to give the Lady Braves an 8-6 lead.
Todd highlighted the Lady Mariners' first-quarter success with a three-pointer. Kailee Veldtstra also chipped in a basket.
Homer's defense began making its impact felt in the second. The Lady Mariners limited Mt. Edgecumbe to just two shots from the field — a pair of treys by Beans — in the period.
Keyed by the defense's ability to create turnovers, the Homer offense hit stride in the second.
After Coopchiak had knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to open the frame, the Lady Mariners went on a 13-0 run and put the Lady Braves on their heels.
Homer, which converted 11 of its 14 attempts from the charity stripe, held a 19-14 lead at the half.
Mt. Edgecumbe fought its way back in the third. The Lady Braves outscored Homer by an 8-6 clip in the third and went into the final eight minutes trailing by three, at 25-22.
Veldtsra led all Homer scorers in the contest with eight points. Godfrey tallied seven, all in the second half. Marina Carroll and Alissa Cole added four and three, respectively, while Box chipped in two.
Homer's defense keyed up an easy win on Friday, downing the Dillingham Wolverines by a 54-11 clip. The Lady Mariners didn't allow Dillingham more than six points in any of the four quarters en route to coasting to the 43-point victory.
Marina Carroll helped Homer get off to a quick start against Dillingham. The sophomore pushed in four of her eight points in the initial eight minutes and powered the Lady M's to an 8-2 advantage. Todd and Alia Bales also posted baskets in the first.
Todd and Grace Godfrey enabled Homer to blow the game open in the second. The two combined for 14 second-quarter points and spearheaded a staggering 16-8 spree that sent the Lady Mariners into the half holding a 26-5 lead.
Todd scored eight of her game-high 14 points in the second. Godfrey, who finished with 10, tallied six.
After stretching their lead to 40-11 in the third, the Lady Mariner defense left its mark on the victory with a stifling effort in the final eight minutes. The HHS girls held Dillingham scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Cole also played well for the Lady Mariners, finishing with eight points.
Homer suffered a tough 52-28 setback to Kotzebue on Thursday in the first round. The Lady Huskies broke open a tight game with a 31-16 second-half run.
"We came out and played two and a half quarters of basketball and then made some mistakes," said Felice.
Todd led all HHS scorers against Kotzebue with seven points. Cole added six.
The Lady Mariners will return to action today (Thursday) when they tip off play in the Grace Christian tournament in Anchorage. Homer will tip off play in the three-day meet against Barrow.