WESTFIELD TWP. — Cloverleaf’s girls basketball team may have found its identity Tuesday.
The problem was it took the Colts three quarters to figure it out.
GlenOak methodically pushed its lead well over double digits and held off a late Cloverleaf rally to win the non-league game 53-42.
“Going in, we were unsure of where we were at,” Colts coach John Carmigiano said. “Can we play a man-to-man defense? Can we play a zone? What are our team strengths? It was hard to know because we’ve been trying all these different combinations, but when we really started to assert ourselves with pressure, things came more naturally to us.”
Behind a defensive switch from a 3-2 zone to a three-quarter-court trap, Cloverleaf (0-1) cut a 17-point third-quarter deficit to seven with 1:33 remaining despite committing 31 turnovers and missing all 12 of its 3-point attempts.
Unfortunately for the hosts, they missed a breakaway layup and coughed up two turnovers to end the mini-run.
Senior and two-time All-Gazette center Katie Simpson was outstanding all game with 12 points, a game-high 19 rebounds and three assists. Shelby Dearth (8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks) also played well on both ends of the court despite 3-of-17 shooting, while juniors Brittany Piper and Rebecca Polcheck combined for seven rebounds, two clutch steals and four fourth-quarter points in their first extended varsity action.
The problem for Cloverleaf was ballhandling and rebounding.
GlenOak (1-0), which received double-digit scoring from guard Katie Gaetano (12 points), freshman posts Rachel McNew (12, 7 rebounds) and Maddy Repp (10, 6) and seven rebounds and seven assists from point guard Angela Darnley, lost the rebounding battle 42-38, but destroyed the Colts with 21 offensive boards and 14 steals.
“We just had a lot of unforced errors,” said Carmigiano, whose backcourt combined for 25 turnovers. “The guards were out of sync at times. … It seemed like every time our guards thought one thing, the wing thought the other thing.”
Cloverleaf was outscored 29-14 in the middle quarters, but rallied thanks to the aforementioned trap that led to fast-break opportunities. Simpson brought the deficit under 10 with a pair of free throws, and Adrea Baughman hit a bucket to get the Colts within seven.
That’s as close as the Colts got, but Carmigiano was pleasantly surprised with his team’s no-quit attitude.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.