STERLING – The box-and-one defense isn’t deployed a whole lot, but the Prophetstown Prophets have found a way to get all of its moves down.
The Prophets needed the specialized zone defense Wednesday in a 1A Newman Regional semifinal against Milledgeville – mostly against Milledgeville senior guard, and leading scorer, Mady Frederick.
In a 41-29 Prophets win, Frederick was limited to a pair of fourth-quarter field goals on nine shots, and that was well after the Prophets had control of the game.
Prophetstown coach Kara Bumsted noticed something about Frederick’s game when the two teams played at the Polo Tournament in December. She liked what her team did with the box-and-one late in the season against Princeton’s Anna Murray, and carried that over into the regional.
“Frederick controls the pace of the game,” Bumsted said. “She does it extremely well, that’s what makes her a great point guard. We knew that maybe if we take her out of the equation a little bit, we can maybe have a little bit better of an outcome.”
Prophetstown (17-9) wanted to drain some 3s, and Courtney Pierceson and Hannah McKinney connected on the Prophets’ first two opportunities.
Emma Camper added another 3 to help build the early lead, putting the Prophets up 13-5 at the end of the first quarter.
Camper had Prophetstown’s only bucket of the second quarter, a 3 with 4 minutes remaining that came off the Missiles’ sixth turnover for a 16-7 lead. The defensive second quarter featured just one other field goal, which came on a jumper from Rebecca Waite. The Prophets stalled their way to close the half with a seven-point lead.
“The girls really bought into our game plan,” Bumsted said. “The box-and-one is sometimes really hard for girls to buy into.”
Camper and Olivia-Hope Toppert put back missed shots early in the third quarter. Camper put back her own shot; Toppert pulled down a miss, passed it away, and got the ball back and threw up a jumper. The Prophets doubled up on their own first-half point total, as well as Milledgeville’s total points at the end of three quarters (32-16).
The strong early-quarter starts for the Prophets continued into the fourth. Camper blocked a Frederick shot from inside, grabbed the rebound, and dished to a fast-breaking Pierceson for a 34-16 lead.
“It took her out of the game, and she couldn’t drive very well on us,” Camper said. “Our girls play really good help defense.”
Frederick finished with nine points for Milledgeville (11-13), seven of which came in the fourth quarter. Missiles coach Kurt Folk said it was the first time this season Frederick had been subjected to the box-and-one.
“We never recovered from the beginning of the game,” Folk said. “They threw the box-and-one at us, and we weren’t overly expecting it.”
1A Newman Regional semifinal
Prophetstown 41, Milledgeville 29
Star of the game: Courtney Pierceson, Prophetstown, 13 points, 7 rebounds
Key performers: Olivia-Hope Toppert, Prophetstown, 11 points, 10 rebounds; Emma Camper, Prophetstown, 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks; Mady Frederick, Milledgeville, 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals
Up next: 1A Newman Regional final: Prophetstown vs. Eastland, 7 p.m. Friday