I had the chance to view two games on Tuesday night featuring 3 of the Top 5 Teams(Madison,Reagan,Steele) in the city. The games also featured 6 of the Top Players(Jessica Kuster, Alexis Williams,Megan Simmons,Monica Engleman,Lyndsey Cloman, CeCe Harper) in the city and the person whom I was most impressed with was Terry Barton.
The Reagan coach put on a coaching clinic against Steele. Steele went into a 2-3 Zone and Bartons' team went to a high-low Zone offense that featured a baseline post in the short corner. The ultra athletic, Jessica Kuster thrived in the set. Barton also knew that Steele had to come out of the zone because his guards, especially Alexis Williams, can stretch the defense with long range bombs. The last thing that disabled Steele's Zone was the inability to rebound and keep Reagan off of the boards. Olivia Swarner is a monster on the boards. Her 7 points does not tell the story of her effectiveness.
Steele then went to a full court press to speed up the game and utilize its athletes. Bartons' team had little trouble with the press. The ball never touched the floor as the Rattlers turned the press break into a layup drill.
Finally, Steele went man. On paper, they should be athletic enough to stay in front of Barton's Rattlers. That's on paper. The Rattlers run structured sets that incorporate a lot of movement and off-ball screens. The offense creates wide open shots for Williams and isolations for Kuster. Swarner ties up any loose ends. The Rattlers FINISH. After a scoring onslaught from Steele's Meighan Simmons brought the Knights within 3 points, Barton shifted it into a different gear. He called a timeout and ran a beautiful set that resulted in an easy lay up. His team then stretched the lead to 7 points and went to a delay game with 3 minutes left in the game. Inexplicably, Steele let the Rattlers run close to 2 minutes off of the clock and gave up a wide open back door layup to stretch the lead to 9. Game over. Barton can coach! His girls are disciplined, focused and tough. Reagan versus Madison is going to be a great game for all of us basketball enthusiasts.
-Speaking of Madison and clinics, Taft got a lesson in Elite Guardology. Monica Engleman was unreal with 24 points in the first half. SA Express wrote a great article about Engleman improved shooting, but I feel her ball handling is where she has shown the most improvement. Her jumper has always been solid, but she grabbed numerous rebounds and led the break with great decisions. CeCe Harper scored all of her 9 points in the first half and would have had at least that many assists if her teammates finished point blank layups she set up for them.
A few more thoughts follow:
- Lyndsey Cloman needs some help. Even the Oklahoma bound post can not carry the entire team without better guard play. Teams will continue to double down on her if her teammates do not start making shots and taking care of the basketball.
- MacArthur's Victoria Willems and her 17 in a low scoring game against a good Stevens team is impressive.
- Sam Houston's Kiki Ageous went for 45 last night. That total eclipses her friend and club teammate, Jackie Edwards(Holy Cross), 40 point outburst for most in the city so far the season.
- Liz Boyd is the REAL DEAL!! The Antonian guard had 24 points in leading Antonian past a very athletic Judson team. Boyd is one of the most slept on kids in the city. She is one top 3 point guards in the city(CeCe Harper and LenNique Brown the other two).
- Southwest Big, Chatavia Boone-Fudge has tremendous upside. The sophomore is definitely a college player if she continues to improve and gets the proper exposure.
- Madison's Ashley Jordan is a freak of an athlete.
- Olivia Swarner thinks every rebound has her name on it.
- Lytle's Cheyenne Berry is keeping up her high scoring pace by going for 28 last night.