DIXON – If defense wins championships then the Dixon Duchesses and Ottawa Pirates could be hoisting up plaques in the next couple of weeks if Thursday night is any indicator.
Both clubs made life rough on the opposing offenses, leading to a low-scoring affair that resulted in a 34-25 win for the Pirates at Lancaster Gym.
With the win, Ottawa claims one title – the NIB-12 West championship. The Pirates are 8-0 with two games left. Geneseo and Sterling, which are tied for second, both have three losses. Ottawa shared the title with Sterling last year.
"We needed this win to clinch conference, and we were able to take care of business," Ottawa coach Mike Cooper said. "We didn't have school yesterday and couldn't practice, and I think that led us to being a little lethargic.
"Give credit to Dixon. Coach Ravlin had them coached very well defensively, and they executed very well. He has them playing well and going in the right direction."
Ottawa (19-2) gained control of the game by scoring the first six points – including two baskets by forward Sam McGrath. That run took up the first 4 minutes of the game.
Brittani Sohn cut into the lead with a pair jumpers, but Ottawa outscored Dixon 5-2 to finish the quarter. McGrath had a three-point play to run her total for the quarter to seven.
"I am really proud of the way we played defense," Dixon's coach Luke Ravlin said. "We didn't box out very well in the first half, but the effort on defense was great."
The key for the Duchesses (13-9, 4-4) was stopping all-conference guards Catie Carlson and Jasmin Bailey. That job fell mainly on the trio of Sohn, Maggie Bushman and Katie Dewey.
Carlson had five points – the biggest on a breakaway layup to end the third quarter to put Ottawa up by nine at 27-18. Bailey had eight points, with her biggest contribution coming on defense, where she had five steals.
"The job that Sohn, Bushman and Dewey did on defense was amazing," Ravlin said. "Those are two 3-year all-conference guards, and we were able to hold them in check. We just couldn't get shots to fall on the other end."
Sohn scored all six points for Dixon in the first quarter. Hartle had all five Dixon points in the second quarter. In fact, Brooke Bailey was the only other Duchess to score in the game.
Bailey, the reigning NIB-12 West MVP, was held to six points on 2-for-13 shooting.
"That took a lot of work by Jessica Wignes and Kasia Miceli to fight through screens and make things tough for her," Cooper said.
Dixon shot 11-for-32 from the field, Hartle being the bright spot. She made six of nine attempts and had 13 points to go with nine rebounds.
"It wasn't a good shooting night for us," Hartle said. "It's a little frustrating, but we played really well on defense. We're really excited for the next couple weeks, because we've been playing well. We just need to block out better and hopefully the shots will fall."
Star of the game: Carly Hartle, Dixon, 13 points, 9 rebounds
Key performers: Sam McGrath, Ottawa, 10 points, 5 rebounds; Jasmin Bailey, Ottawa, 8 points, 5 steals
Up next: Stillman Valley at Dixon, 6 p.m. Saturday