Patti Hower isn’t all that worried about aesthetics and outcomes. She’s more concerned with effort and desire.
A day after feeling a bit disheartened by her team’s performance, Hower’s Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team lifted her spirits on Friday night with a 60-39 victory over Twin Valley, in the consolation game of the Lebanon High Christmas Tournament. The Beavers simply worked harder, applied themselves and earned a more satisfying result, in comparison to Thursday’s disappointing loss to Elco.
Displaying more intensity generated by a full-court press, the Beavers opened an early double-digit advantage, then held the Raiders at arm’s length the rest of the way. Or in other words, Lebanon Catholic asserted itself early, and never stopped doing so.
The triumph moved the Beavers to 5-4 on the season. Twin Valley slipped to 0-9.
“I’m always optimistic,” smiled Hower, “and then I watch us play and I become disappointed. I just can’t believe we keep doing the same wrong things over and over again.
“But it’s a new day,” Hower continued. “I always come to the gym with a positive attitude. Yeah, I was disappointed in our effort (Thursday against Elco), with our lack of energy. We’re not overly skilled. But we can make up for it with heart.”
And determination. And hard work. And a sense of urgency.
The combination of the Beavers’ pressure defense and 2-3 half-court zone limited Twin Valley to a single point over the game’s opening 7:48. And during that time, Lebanon Catholic was opening an 11-1 bulge on the scoring of Abby Shay, Helene Reist and Holly Marinkov.
“We took off the press in the middle of the second quarter,” Hower said. “We were only going to go back to it if we had to. It might have given us more energy. It created some stuff for us. It got us going. We can not press the whole game, because we don’t have the depth.
“We’re not a great pressing team,” Hower added. “We’ll use it when we have to. I don’t want to wear Abby Shay out of the game.”
On a pair of treys from Reist and a lay-in by Shay, Lebanon Catholic tallied the final eight points of the first half to take a 31-12 bulge to the break. Reist connected on three of the Beavers’ four three-pointers in the second quarter, one which also featured five straight Catholic points by Catherine Gross.
“I thought we played a little bit better,” said Hower, again referencing Elco and Thursday evening. “I thought we had a little more energy. We made a conscious effort of that, and had some different people score. It was more of a team effort.
“Yeah, Catherine (Gross) did play well,” Hower continued. “She ran the court. She scores better in transition than in the half-court.”
Lebanon Catholic’s scoring was as balanced as its been all year. Shay popped for 17 points and then was named to the all-tournament team, Reist collected 15 points, Gross accumulated 11 and Marinkov dropped in ten.
“She (Shay) actually went into school today and worked on her foul shots,” said Hower of Shay’s one-for-seven free-throw shooting. “I think it’s more mental than anything. She’s a little quick with it. She thinks she’s going to miss it, and she’s getting ready to go get it. If you’re going to get fouled a lot, you’ve got to make your foul shots.
“Helene did a better job of pushing the ball up the court,” added Hower. “I hope that she sees how that translates into easier baskets. But we need to get more out of her offensively.”
The Beavers went without a point over the first 3:06 of the final period, during which Twin Valley pulled to within 46-34. But Lebanon Catholic outscored the Raiders 14-5 the rest of the way, and pulled away.