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Depth, defense lead Cougar girls in win
Freshman Emma Leuders provided a spark for the Cougars and also led the offense with nne points. (Photo courtesy of Art Chamberlin)
Falcon defender Brena Brown (right) tries to steal the ball away from Cougar Lindsy Crutchfield. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
Jessica Conant of Dirigo goes up with a shot in the lane. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
DIXFIELD -- When Mountain Valley and Dirigo compete in a girls' basketball game, there will be plenty of action. However, it was the Cougars who made noise at Defoe Gymnasium.
A balanced offensive attack, an abundance of depth and strong defensive effort proved to be enough as the Lady Cougars rolled to a 58-31 triumph against Mountain Valley.
A pair of treys early in the second quarter ignited a double-digit lead and Dirigo never looked back. Lindsy Crutchfield drained a trey and Ambyr Wilson made a jumper to start the 12-0 run. Following a missed shot, the Cougars dribbled down and Wilson buried a trey.
Lexi Noyes inbounded the ball into Kayla Gaudin for a layup, then Noyes and Jessica Conant each added baskets for a 25-10 lead.
''We wanted to come out and play hard,'' said Wilson. ''Everyone stepped up. This rivalry with Mountain Valley really fuels our fire and got us going.''
Mountain Valley has struggled bringing the ball up and the trend continued as Dirigo deployed its full court, trapping defense. The Falcons missed their first 10 shots in the second quarter, until Shannon Laubauskas and Katie Puiia each made baskets with three and two minutes left before halftime.
Dirigo had controlled the interior with Gaudin (8 points, four blocks, five steals), Kelsey Hutchins and Conant (9 points). This provided plenty of space out beyond the arc for Emma Leuders (9 points, two treys), Wilson (7 points), Sabrina Daoud (6 points).
“Most teams only like to go seven or eight deep,” said Dirigo coach Reggie Weston. “I can go up to 11 deep. Our plan tonight was to get up in their faces and deny them the ball. It's hard for some teams to match our height underneath the basket, plus Kayla Gaudin is one of the fastest players in the MVC.”
Mountain Valley was led by Brooke Dolloff (12 points, nine rebounds) and Darbi Brown (five points), who hustled on both sides of the court. In the third quarter, baskets by Dolloff (two) and a Brown fast break, cut the deficit to 42-25.
Dirigo responded by making its first five shots in the fourth quarter.
''We didn't really have any trouble getting our transition game going,” said Noyes. “We found the gaps and our defense intimidated them bringing the ball up. Home court was an advantage.”
The Falcons shot 23 percent and turned the ball over 33 times. Dirigo shot 45 percent, but was 11 of 22 from the line.