Balance of power

ATTICA – Two games, two big wins.

It took a while for Calvert to tip off its season, but once the ball went in the air, things have gone quite smoothly for the Senecas. Two days after posting a 28-point win over Norwalk St. Paul in the season opener, Calvert opened Midland Athletic League play with a 68-39 win over Seneca East.

“It’s going great,” Calvert’s Nicole Bickley said of the young season. “Everyone’s contributing to the scoring and I’m really proud of how everyone’s doing.”

She hit the nail on the head saying “everyone’s contributing.” In Thursday’s win, nine players scored points with three landing in double figures. Taylor Ritzler topped Calvert with 14 points, Kate Brickner had 12 and Bickley posted a double-double, grabbing 12 rebounds to go with her 10 points.

“Coming into the year we knew what we were going to get out of Kate and Nicole,” Calvert coach Tim Ritzler said. “We were looking for other girls to step up and as long as they step up, it helps take the pressure of those two. As much as teams try to focus on them, if other girls start making shots you have to adjust defensively and that just opens up things of everyone else. I thought our girls did an excellent job tonight sharing the basketball, finding the open person. They’re a very unselfish group. They don’t care who gets the buckets as long as we’re winning games.”

A balanced offense with nine players scoring will help win a lot of games. Keeping the other team from scoring will help win a lot more.

For the second-straight game, Calvert’s defense held its opponent under 30 percent shooting. Seneca East hit on just 14 of 64 shots (21.8 percent). For Tiger coach Dave Stallings, while the Calvert defense was tough to work through, he feels the mental aspect was also working against his team.

“It’s a mental block,” he said. “Truth of the matter is, it’s a mental block for our girls. I respect Tim and his program. I wasn’t scared of them. I think we could’ve competed with them and we just didn’t do it tonight. We didn’t hit shots early and I thought that hurt us.”

Things started off promising when Seina Adachi opened the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer for Seneca East. Brittany Brookes also knocked down a 3-pointer toward the end of the quarter, but in between it was missed shot after missed shot. The two trifectas were the only baskets the Tigers hit on in 17 attempts in the first quarter. They didn’t get their first two-point basket until Adachi got a steal and layup midway through the second.

Inside the arc, Calvert’s defense was nearly impenetrable.

“We knew what kind of guards they have and we wanted to stop the dribble penetration as much as possible, force them to shoot from the outside,” Ritzler said. “I thought our defense tonight was very good and that’s kind of what got us going.”

Second looks were hard to come by for Seneca East, as most missed shots were usually gobbled up by the Calvert post players.

Along with Bickley’s numbers, Margaret Bowers tallied eight points and seven rebounds. Including reserves Samantha Beckley and Amber Perry, the Calvert post players totaled 26 points and 27 rebounds.

“I think we definitely had the height advantage and we’ve been working hard to outscore other posts,” Bickley said. “We’ve really been focusing on our defense, and we know with our quick guards, we can shut down the outside shots. Then, we can completely deny the inside.”

“I think it’s something we try to do just about every night,” Ritzler said. “We’re very confident in our post players inside and we think we got four pretty good ones, even with the two we bring off the bench in Sam and Amber. They do a nice job inside. We want to establish an inside presence, then if teams start to press, we know we can kick out to shooters. I think our guards did a good job getting it inside. Our post players do a great job posting up and getting good position.”

Adachi, who came in leading the MAL in the season’s infant stages with 23.7 points a game, led Seneca East with 15, but struggled with her shot all night as the Calvert defense prevented her from getting in a good scoring rhythm.

“We just didn’t make shots,” Stallings said. “Seina’s leading the MAL in four different categories and she just didn’t have it tonight. None of our guards did.”