PROCTORVILLE — Sometimes, the performance that a coach sees out of his or her team is not the optimal performance that is desired.
And despite the fact that Minford ultimately claimed a decisive 65-41 victory over Huntington (W. Va.) in the Tri-State Hoops Showdown on Saturday evening in Proctorville, Scott Caudill knows that his unit can play in a much more crisp manner than the one that was displayed on Saturday evening.
“We knew that Huntington was going to play a 1-2-2 (zone defense), because they played it against Fairland when I watched them play,” Caudill said. “They sagged in so much that it really left our wings wide-open, so open, in fact, that we were coming down, making one pass, and shooting the ball. If it went in, great, if it didn’t, we were going the other way. It was just a really stagnant offense, and we became complacent. Honestly, we’re not very happy at all.”
Much of the struggles that Caudill referenced to occurred in the first quarter, where Minford struggled to finish from 15 feet further inward. Caitlyn Puckett, who finished with 13 points for the contest and showed off the spirited energy that helped establish a lead for the Lady Falcons, proved to be vital with seven points — the majority coming off of putbacks — to allow Minford to take a 16-8 first-quarter lead.
In the second quarter, Caudill, along with Marissa Risner — who hit two treys in the first quarter to account for Minford’s first six points — were again vital in the second frame. When the Lady Highlanders cut the Lady Falcons’ lead to a 26-20 margin with just over two minutes to play, Puckett’s play defensively, another pair of treys from Risner, and a runner from Erin Daniels to end the half allowed Minford to take a 33-20 advantage into the halftime break.
“Caitlyn played a great game,” Caudill said. “As a matter of fact, she led the run that we had in the second quarter, which really changed the basketball game.”
The 13-point lead, however, wasn’t enough to change Caudill’s mind about the overall showing.
“It wasn’t a very good performance,” Caudill said. “In the first half, we didn’t play very good team basketball and we didn’t make those extra passes that we were making in the second half. We talked a lot about that at halftime. They were getting some dribble penetration, and we weren’t working on our helpside defense, so they were getting some easy treys off of the backside block.”
The third quarter, however, proved to be a much more fruitful result.
When Risner started the second half as she did the first with another three — her fifth of the game — it put a spark into the Lady Falcons that ended up not going away. Behind excellent ball movement from Minford’s main core, the Lady Falcons ultimately were able to drain four additional treys — three from Daniels alone, who finished with a game-high 17 points and won Player of the Game honors on Minford’s side of things — to open up the margin as the Lady Falcons went on a 24-8 spurt to ultimately take a 57-28 lead after three quarters of action.
“Erin played phenomenal in the second half,” Caudill said. “She was a leader for us, both offensively and defensively.”
During the quarter, Minford ultimately went on a 15-2 stretch where the Lady Falcons held Huntington to just a single basket over a four-minute stretch. The Lady Falcons ultimately weren’t challenged again.
“We made those defensive corrections with the girls, and we did a much better job in the second half of talking on screens, communicating on screens, and dropping down and cutting off the movement on the backside block,” Caudill said. “You could tell that it really slowed down Huntington offensively.”
“We played much better team basketball,” Caudill said. “We were coming down and making four, five, six passes, which shifted their zone and allowed us to establish an inside presence, which really deflated Huntington.”
With the victory, Minford will now turn its attention to a home bout against Jackson on Monday evening. In addition to the possibility of moving to 16-0 on the year, Daniels, with her 17-point outing, is just seven points away from breaking the girls basketball program’s all-time mark for points scored in a career, which is currently held by Cheryl Preston-Bolender (1,379).
But even with all of the aforementioned marks on the line, Caudill wants his unit to focus on playing the game with confidence and a sense of enjoyment.
“You’ve got to have fun,” Caudill said. “In the second quarter, I saw that our energy and confidence was down, and we weren’t having fun. When you see a team having fun, that’s a dangerous squad to face. In the third quarter, we were much more confident, we were sharing the basketball, we were making that extra pass, and we were smiling and having fun.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT