Calvert opens up season with a win

On opening night, you can expect a few bugs in the system that need to be worked out. For Calvert, there were some on-the-court bugs as well as some off-the-court bugs.

Off the court, no one could figure out how to get the gymnasium PA system working to play the warm-up music.

But that turned out to be the only problem Calvert couldn’t overcome.

After a slow start, Calvert got the bugs worked out of its system and pulled away from Norwalk St. Paul for a 66-38 victory in the season opener for the Senecas.

“It feels great to start off the season with a win. I think the girls were a little anxious. We came out and we were a little sloppy at the beginning,” Calvert coach Tim Ritzler said. “I think it was a little bit, they were anxious. They seen the box scores, seen the other teams playing two or three games and they had to wait to go. Once we got settled down we starting the kind of ball we need to play, starting making better passes, running the floor like we needed to. We played real well.”

Calvert committed nine first-quarter turnovers and needed a late basket to end the opening frame with a 9-8 lead. But after that, Calvert made just 13 turnovers the rest of the way. It opened the second quarter on a 16-2 run to take control.

“We warmed up and got to see how we played together,” Calvert’s Kate Brickner said. “We have a lot of new girls playing varsity, so a lot of changes are happening. It’s good to see that we could get our first win tonight.”

Ritzler said the key to taking over was his team’s defense. Led by point guard Taylor Ritzler, the Seneca defense picked up numerous steals that turned into easy Calvert baskets.

“I think it all started with our defense,” coach Ritzler said. “Our defense, I thought, was very good. We were able to get ourselves some turnovers and some easy baskets which relaxed us. Once we got a little bit of a lead, we were able to relax, get out and run the floor, things like that. It started with our defense, then we hit some shots and you could see our confidence gaining.

“At times we got a little bit too much with our hands, we were trying to steal the dribble, and got some cheap fouls on us. We told the girls, just get up in the passing lanes and get your steals that way. I thought Taylor did a great job putting pressure on the ball, getting some tips. I think she had a great night for us.”

“At practice, that’s all we pretty much been working on,” Taylor Ritzler added. “During our scrimmages, we were slacking on defense. (Coach Ritzler) said, every single practice we got to keep our intensity up. We’ve been working a lot on help defense and when they drive, pull off. So I was trying to be in my deny position to get as many steals as I could. They wanted us in the passing lanes.”

At halftime, Lindsay Bickley had 10 points for Calvert and Brickner added seven as the Senecas took a 29-18 lead. However, in the third quarter, St. Paul began to battle back, getting within seven at 33-26.

Taylor Ritzler, though, picked up things at the offensive end. Playing extended minutes due to foul trouble on the team, she scored eight of her 12 points in the quarter to stretch the lead back out.

“(Coach Ritzler) goes, ‘you’re going to have to start playing a lot’ cause we had Danielle [Kontak], who’s our other point guard in foul trouble,” she said. “He says ‘you’re going to have to keep pushing through.'”

Four Senecas scored in double figures led by Brickner with 16. Ritzler added 12 and Nicole Bickley had 11 to go with Lindsay’s Bickley’s 10.

“We talked about it all year with the girls, we got Kate, we got Nicole coming back. Everyone knows who they are as far as offense goes,” coach Ritzler said. “We need other people to step up and tonight it was Taylor.”

But in the fourth quarter, it was Calvert’s seniors who put the game away. St. Paul opened the fourth with a basket, then Brickner and Emma Sullivan each hit 3-pointers to jump start a 12-0 Calvert run, as the lead quickly escalated to a 20-point advantage.

“We’re coming along,” said St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl after her team fell to 0-3. “We played well, a little bit tense right the beginning but came back in the third quarter and they did what I asked. We just told them, we need to take that third quarter, the way we played in that third quarter and play it all four quarters and we’d beat people.”

Shooting woes plagued the Flyers, who shot 26.2 percent (16 of 61) on the night.

“As a coach you kind of got to give credit to their defense, but the fact that we got the open looks we got and they ball didn’t fall,” Mahl said. “I would say moreso the aspect of, just a cold night for us. Take nothing away from them, but we got the open looks and we did get the shots, they just didn’t fall for us tonight.”

In the fourth, Nicole Bickley scored nine and Brickner seven to make sure the opener was a pleasant one for Calvert.

“I kind of saw something in myself that I’ve been looking for all summer,” Brickner said. “I didn’t start off the way I wanted to, but I was happy with how we played as a team.”