Pomperaug pressure too much for Staples
The CIAC Class L first-round game was five minutes old before Staples managed to squeeze off a single shot. The Wreckers finally managed to score their first point with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Of course, by that time, No. 11 Pomperaug had raced to a double-digit lead. It was an advantage they never relinquished as the Panthers cruised to a 57-45 win over No. 22 Staples.
The win propels Pomperaug to a second-round game Wednesday night against Waterford.
Staples made a run at the start of the fourth quarter, but never posed a serious threat to Pomperaug's early blitz.
"We want to make the pressure that other teams face as intense as possible," Panthers coach
Pomperaug makes its living capitalizing off of turnovers. The Panthers press from start to finish. Even when they revert to a half-court defense, they throw a series of traps at the opposition.
Monday night, armed with scouting reports from common opponents, the Wreckers knew exactly what was coming. They just couldn't match Pomperaug's quickness and frenetic pace. As a result, Staples turned the ball over 25 times. Seventeen of those miscues came in the first half and 12 came in the first quarter.
"We practiced against their defense all weekend," Staples coach Ed Huydic said. "Our guards just didn't react well to it. The 11-0 start was the game. We scored four points in the first quarter and we scored six points in the third quarter. You can't do that and expect to win the game."
The Wreckers also had trouble defending against Pomperaug. Lexi Allen , the smooth Panther junior, scored 10 of her 14 points in the deciding first half. Most of those hoops came on soft jumpers from the perimeter as Staples tried to employ a zone defense.
"Our eyes got pretty big," Allen said. "It was easy to play against their zone. I just ran baseline and looked for the ball."
Annie Ackerman took over the scoring load in the second half. She scored 10 of her 14 points after halftime. Her 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter gave Pomperaug a 46-27 advantage, its biggest lead of the night. Staples used a 9-0 run at the beginning of the final quarter to pull somewhat close at 46-37.
Kamide looked visibly upset on the sidelines as his team turned the ball over on consecutive possessions. Once, when his team secured an offensive rebound and promptly threw the ball away, Kamide screamed for his team to settle down loud enough for the entire gym to hear.
"We knew it would be tough to put them away," Allen said. "They have some good players and they hit some shots in the fourth quarter. We didn't expect them to quit."
But Pomperaug's depth wore Staples down in the end. The Panthers hit their free throws down the stretch and pulled away for the win.
"This team has been a pleasure to coach because of the balance we have," Kamide said. "It's not easy to defend us because we have more than one person that can hurt you. We've been balanced like that all year."
Staples (10-11) 4 17 6 18 - 45
Pomperaug (16-6) 14 18 14 11 - 57
STAPLES (45): Meredith Katz 1 3-3 5; Sam Katz 5 1-2 12; A.C. Roesch 5 4-4 14; Jackie Printz 4 1-1 9; Kelly Wall 0 0-0 0; Liz Hood 0 0-0 0; Jackie O'Connell 0 0-0 0; Kelly Romano 0 0-0 0; Sara Yeager 0 0-0 0; Kate Englander 2 0-0 5. TOTALS: 17 9-10 44.
POMPERAUG (57): Anna Balouskas 0 6-9 6; Annie Ackerman 4 5 -5 14; Andrea Northrup 1 1-3 3; Abby Maguire 4 1-4 9; Lexi Allen 6 0-0 14; Lauren Kulish 0 2-2 2; Jenna Koliani 1 1-2 3; Paige Moore 1 0-0 3; Jaqueline Johannes 1 1-4 3. TOTALS: 18 17-29 57
3-POINT GOALS: Allen (P) 2; Moore (P) Ackerman (P); Sam Katz (S)