It wasn’t a close game — Ballard (9-2) jumped out to a 21-0 lead and coasted to a 66-13 victory over outmatched Perry (1-11) — but there was still plenty to observe on Friday night in Huxley. Five things that…
It wasn’t a close game — Ballard (9-2) jumped out to a 21-0 lead and coasted to a 66-13 victory over outmatched Perry (1-11) — but there was still plenty to observe on Friday night in Huxley. Five things that stood out:
Ballard’s press is no joke
Utilizing an incessant, persistent full-court press, the Bombers turned Perry over a ridiculous 38 times. On Perry’s first nine possessions, they turned the ball over. Ballard now leads 4A in steals, with 15 per game.
The backcourt zone pressure was constant, and the Bombers’ were constantly interrupting Perry’s passing lanes and their ability to dribble.
“We were pretty active defensively. We’ve been active with our hands more than our feet and tonight we decided to get a little more active with our feet, and so just put ourselves in good positions,” Ballard assistant coach Kelvin Adams said.
Particularly thieving was point guard Molly Ihle, who had a video-game-esque 11 steals. She picked the pocket of Perry’s ball handlers on plenty of occasions, often turning them into fast break scores. She finished with 12 points.
“That’s kind of what we’re good at it. Just running and jumping and getting steals,” Ihle said.
A 5-foot-5 sophomore, Ihle looks to have a college future ahead of her.
Five-out offense worked well
When they weren’t turning steals into points, Ballard used a five-out half-court offense. With all five players on the perimeter and acting as threats to score, the Bombers whipped the ball around about as quickly as any high school team does, finding lanes to the basket.
“During practice, we always work on swing, swing then drive from the corner, so from doing that in practice, it’s kind of engraved in our brains,” Ihle said.
Even though Ballard’s 3s weren’t falling — they made 1 of 12 — they were able to get plenty of good looks at the rim. The result is that four players scored in double-figures, and the Bombers assisted on 22 of their 29 shots.
“I think a credit to our girls is we don’t care who leads us in shots, we don’t care who leads us in scoring, so it’s fun to coach a group of girls like that,” Adams said.
Freshman Meg Rietz, who entered the contest averaging 3.2 points per game, led the Bombers with 14 points. A smooth lefty, Rietz went a perfect 7-for-7 from the field, scoring on interior bank shots. The 5-foot-10 forward also added three assists.
A young team
Ballard is about as young as it gets. With just one senior on the roster and a starting lineup of a freshman (Brooke Loewe), three sophomores (Ihle, Josie Fleischman, and Cassidy Thompson) and one junior (Maggie Larson), plus Rietz off the bench, it’s a youthful team with lots of upside.
Perhaps most interesting is Thompson. At 6-foot-2, Thompson towered above the competition. She’s averaging 2.0 blocks per game (third in 4A) and if she can become more aggressive on the glass, she could be a huge difference-maker.
She chipped in six points, too, and even hit a 3-pointer; it was called off for traveling, but any 6-footer who can hit jump shots is sure to catch someone’s eye.
Four Bombers are averaging at least 8.8 points per game — and that doesn’t include Rietz or Thompson. Ihle, the team’s point guard and probable best player, leads the team with 11.3 points, 4.2 assists, 4.0 steals and 6.3 rebounds.
Loewe is a super talented freshman. A 5-foot-7 guard, she had active hands on defense and was capable on offense, as well. She finished with 6 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
Fleischman finished with 11 points and hit the team’s lone trey. Larson, relatively experienced as a junior, is the team’s leading 3-point shooter at a 39.3 percent clip. She went just 0 for 1 from deep on Friday, but still managed to score 11 points and was smooth as she attacked the basket.
Perry had the daunting task of playing without their star player, Molly Lutmer, who averages 17.0 points per game and scores over half of their points. For reference, the team’s second-leading scorer is Jayna Kenney at 3.8 points per game.
Lutmer sat out with an injury, making the challenge of breaking Ballard’s press and staying competitive even more challenging.
Kenney, a 5-foot-7 freshman, played most of the game and displayed a bright future.
She scored two points, while Gabby West, Kennedy Tunink, Peyton Tunink and Michelle Tobar also scored for Perry.