If you grew up in the 80’s, one of the all-time favorite basketball movies—Hoosiers may have inspired and even entertained you. One of the key lessons the movie continued to drill into the players and the audience—defense wins the game.
For the Clark Cougars—defense wins the game. “We have game goals,” said coach Rihana Houy. “We intend to out rebound our opponents by five on defense and offense. My high school coach use to say `if you can out rebound your opponent by 10, you have a great chance at winning.”
Tonight, the Clark Lady Cougars controlled the boards on both ends of the court. Kendall Young, Rachel Lee, Cassie Bell refused to give space or share the ball with their opponent—like a large magnet these three players drew the balls in and held on. This rebounding help to establish a strong offensive attack and an early lead for the Lady Cougars.
Rebounding and defensive footwork allows the players to focus on another team goal—keeping the opponent to 40 or under 40 points for the game. Another goal checked off the list.
The Lady Cougars would score first with a free shot by Sydney Solitare and then a basket by Ta’Niya Jackson. Clark would never look back from the boards the rest of the night. The Lady Cougars never trailed during the game.
Playing great defense allows the Lady Cougars to focus upon another goal—pushing the ball up the floor. “Dribble penetration is important,” added Houy. “Our girls focus on getting the ball down the floor and inside.” Clark moved the ball around the front court very well tonight as the team had outscored their opponent by double by the end of the third quarter.
Outstanding offense allowed another rarity for the Clark Lady Cougars and Houy. The coach played every person on the bench. For most teams the regional semifinal game can prove to be daunting and most encounters rely on the starting five to remain in the game for most of the contest. Each of the Clark players built memories tonight as they subbed into the game.
Importantly the starting five received rest tonight to allow them to prepare for the final game tomorrow night. Final game—another philosophy of the Lady Cougars. Play each game as if it will be the last. Ultimately there are three games left for a team to be crowned the State Champion in 6A.
Clark is guaranteed one of those three. Standing in their way for the next game is the winner of the Laredo United and Judson game. Judson has seen this territory before as they are 3 time regional finalists. As I am typing this, Judson leads United 40-20 in the first half. United beat Judson earlier in the season, but as you watch the players on the court you understand why Judson has earned their spot in the regional finals for the last three years.
As the Clark Lady Cougars sit in the stands watching; mentally you know a little chant has started “defense, defense, defense.”
Just like the fictional Hoosier team who had never travelled to the State finals the Clark Lady Cougars have never participated in the regional final game. “Defense, defense, defense.” Tomorrow at 2pm the Lady Cougars take the floor in what could be their last game.
The one guarantee tomorrow afternoon—the Lady Cougars intend to control the boards and dribble into the paint in the front court. Coach Houy reminds us all, tomorrow may be the last game but it will be a game for all to remember.
Tomorrow’s regional final game will be played at Northside Gym, 2pm tip-off.