Lady Cobras smother Immaculata on the way to season-opening victory
If there was one word to summarize the Jackson Heights girls basketball team in their opening game, a 48-32 victory, at home against Immaculata, “intense” would certainly fit the bill. At the very least, it was an adjective head coach Dan Shupe was very happy to use in describing his team’s performance on Friday night.
“The kids came out and really played with intensity at the start of the game. That’s the thing that I really tried to instill in them this last year and a half is I wanted to make it more of a pressure type game and making the other team have to work to make decisions,” Shupe said. “Win or lose, that’s the type of game I’d like to see our kids play day in and day out.”
Right out of the gate, the Cobras cranked up the intensity on the Raiders early and forced some turnovers to get some points in transition, leading to an 8-0 run to start the game.
By the end of the first quarter, the Raiders might have been feeling a little dizzy as the Cobras had already built up a double-digit lead, 12-2.
Immaculata got its bearings in the second quarter and started to answer back, but Jackson Heights kept its foot on the gas defensively and continued to work well in transition. The Cobras smothered the Raiders on that end of the floor and that is part of the tough mentality Shupe said he wants his players to have.
Another thing the coach wants from his team is a balance in the roles. While Jessica Keehn was a go-to player a season ago (and one of four Cobras to score nine points in Friday’s win), he wants that burden to be spread out and other players to be able step up, which happened in the opening game.
The Raiders hung around and threatened to make it a tight game going into halftime before Taylor Abel hit a long three with just over two minutes left to push the Cobras’ lead back to double digits. The Cobras then took a 24-15 lead into the locker room at halftime. Abel was also one of the four players to finish the game with nine points.
“I feel more comfortable than I have in a lot more people who can have the confidence to take that outside shot, which is going to take the pressure off Jessica where defenses can’t just key in on Jessica. They’re going to have to play those other kids on the perimeter and that’s big,” Shupe said.
Immaculata would not go away, though, and in response the Raiders ramped up their own defensive intensity in the second half to try and make a comeback. While Shupe said his team tried to rush things at times reacting to that defense, he said the Cobras handled it well for the most part.
The Raiders did draw some fouls and take advantage at the free throw line, with five of their eight points in the third quarter coming from the charity stripe, but the Cobras responded when needed as Keehn was the one to hit a big three this time, draining one halfway through the third quarter to maintain that double-digit lead.
Fouls did pile up on Jackson Heights Friday, but it is something Shupe said he will not worry too much about just yet. The players are still getting their bearings in the extended pressure defense he implemented last year and he knows increasing the depth and rotation of the Cobras’ will only help with that.
Trying to make a run in the fourth quarter, the Raiders continued to press and while the Cobras had a few too many turnovers they got through it and continued to soak in that basketball knowledge regarding situations like playing with a lead.
“These kids are figuring it out, there’s just a learning curve to get through,” Shupe said.
Eventually, the Cobras did exactly what they needed to and milked the clock in the final minutes as well as sinking their final seven free throws to secure the 48-32 victory over the seventh-ranked team in Class 1A-Division I.
It was a good win that shows the improvement of the team in one year’s time as well as builds confidence heading into another tough match-up next Friday at Maur Hill, according to Shupe.
Jackson Heights picked up the win by rebounding well and playing strong defense throughout, especially on the perimeter.
“I don’t know what their shooting percentage was, but it couldn’t have been very good for them outside. They hit some inside shots, but I can’t remember too many perimeter shots out of them,” Shupe said.
In fact, the Raiders made no three-pointers in Friday’s game as Jackson Heights knocked off one of the teams predicted to challenge for an NEKL title. There are still things to learn and ways to adjust (like handling defensive switches), so the Cobras will go back to work in preparation for a tough game in Atchison next Friday starting at 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 5. 2014
JHHS: Abel 4 (1) 0-0 9, Allen 3 3-3 9, Keehn 3 (1) 2-4 9, Strube 4 1-2 9, Wareham 1 (1) 2-2 5, Thomas 1 1-2 3, Gibson 0 2-2 2, Cattrell 1 0-0 2. Totals- 17 (3) 11-15 48.
Immac.: Wolk 4 5-6 13, D. Sachse 3 1-4 7, Wolken 2 1-1 5, Parker 2 0-0 4, Vardiman 0 2-2 2, Schubert 0 1-2 1, Campbell 0 0-3 0. Totals- 11 10-19 32.
Rebounds: JH- 27 (Allen 8, Strube 6, Wells 4, Gibson 4); Immac.- 18 (D. Sachse 4, Parker 4).
Assists: JH- 8 (Abel 3, Gibson 2); Immac.- 2 (Parker 1, Wolk 1).
Turnovers: JH- 19; Immac.- 15.