The key to Bishop Carroll’s success during its 55-35 win over United in Thursday’s District 6 Class A girls quarterfinal game - according to coach Crystal Horton - was defensive adjustments.
Though the Huskies’ bench boss was only the messenger and not the one taking credit for those adaptations that opened a one-point game at halftime into the 20-point win that Bishop Carroll (11-10) eventually enjoyed.
“Our assistant coach Julie Kovach actually said ‘go into a press and fall back into a zone,’ ” Horton said. “We’d never done that before. We did and our girls executed. We played defense in the second half versus that first half.”
Bishop Carroll used a 6-0 run to open the second half - on a layup by Haley Krug and four points from Britt Krug - while stifling the Lions into scorelessness until Taylor Mack sunk a pair of free throws with 4:03 left in the quarter.
“Our team played together well,” Britt Krug said. “Our coaches gave us a good speech at halftime and we just came together and really pulled through.”
An 6-2 bulge followed with Britt Krug, Lea Sammarco and Ellie Yahner each scoring buckets around a layup by United’s Eden Bloom.
The Lions (13-10), who got 20 from Bloom and 15 from Mack, struggled to establish any sort of rhythm against the Bishop Carroll defense, which began converting turnovers into points during the fourth.
“That was something that we were afraid of, we have a few kids out with injuries right now,” United coach Lee Ann Ault said. “Our goal coming into this game was to give everything we had and I think our kids did.”
United was also without a pair of starters, losing Hope Hixson and Kylee Surike to injury last week.
“I’m not going to make excuses, (Bishop Carroll) was the better team,” Ault said. “I think our kids gave everything they had to give.”
Bishop Carroll added to its lead in the fourth, frustrating the Lions while opening the frame on a 10-3 run. Both Krugs, Courtney Link, Alli Farabaugh and Yahner scored during that burst, which took the Huskies to a 47-32 lead. Bishop Carroll, with four points from Farabaugh and five from Yahner, was able to seal the win with Bloom and Mack each scoring three points during the fourth for the Heritage Conference squad.
“We told our girls to attack,” Horton said. “Attack the basket and we can’t live and die by the three. We shoot a lot of threes and most times we make them. We were taking too many threes, settling for the shot and we attacked, we got to the free-throw line.”
United, behind Bloom’s hot hand, led through most of the first quarter and portions of the second as the senior forward netted 13 points.
The Huskies chipped away and managed to swipe the lead late in each quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers from Britt Krug and Haley Krug pushing Bishop Carroll to a 14-13 lead after one.
A jumper by Sammarco a possession after Mack converted a traditional 3-point play with 28 seconds to go before halftime gave the Cambria County squad a 24-23 edge at the half.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.