eschickler@bcnnew.com

Defense wins games and the Weston girls basketball team is in good shape if it stays on the same defensive path. Weston's press forced Stratford into committing 31 turnovers, 21 in the decisive first half, in its 70-36 home victory. The Lady Trojans raised their record to 4-2. Stratford dropped to 3-3.

"I was happy with our effort," said Weston coach Pat Cole. "The kids worked hard, especially on defense."

The Lady Trojans opened the game with an 11-0 lead with senior captain Brittany Swanson (18 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, one forced turnover) swished two three-pointers in the first quarter in staking them out to the lead.

"I guess I was offensive minded," said Swanson. "Everyone was hitting their shots in practice and I figured I had to hit my shots too."

Both treys were set up by junior Christina Welsh (five assists). Welsh adroitly set up her teammates all game and would have easily had more assists if her teammates didn't miss so many shots.

Missed shots were a problem for Weston and it could have gotten a bigger lead if it did better converting its opportunities. The Lady Red Devils took advantage and closed the gap to five, 11-6 with 2:31 remaining in the first quarter.

"There were tough moments but we pulled it together and played hard," said Swanson. "We're coming together as a team."

Welsh (14 points, two 3-pointers) responded when she stopped and popped behind the three-point line before swishing a trey. She was an offensive force, hitting big shots all game.

"My teammates gave me good passes and I got the shots off quickly," said Welsh.

With the quarter winding down, Welsh stole the ball at midcourt and laid it in with 21.6 seconds left to make it 20-8, the score after one quarter.

"Coach wants us to be intense and aggressive and I tried to put pressure on their offense," said Welsh.

Welsh (eight rebounds, seven steals, three forced turnovers) spearheaded the defense and made it look easy.

"I was relying on my teammates to set up the trap and I was able to anticipate," said Welsh.

Junior Hannah Hutchins and senior captain Jessica Welsh (Christina's sister) complemented the younger Welsh on defense. Hutchins (six points, six rebounds, three assists, four steals, one blocked shot) forced five Stratford turnovers and was instrumental in Christina Welsh coming up with some of her steals.

"I was trying to read their offense and Jessica was doing well up top," said Hutchins. "Our defense worked well together. I also tried to anticipate, Jessica forced mistakes and I got the ball."

Jessica Welsh said, "One of the things that helped us was that we made a point to come out strong. We stuck with it and were strong on defense. I couldn't have done it without the rest of my teammates. It was definitely a collaborative effort."

Captain Welsh (13 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, three forced turnovers) hit a layup and 3-pointer in the second quarter from Hutchins and helped the Lady Trojans extend their lead to 24 at the break, 39-15.

"I had great assists from my teammates," said Jessica Welsh.

Weston dominated on the glass behind junior Dakota Sloop (six points, 12 rebounds, one steal, two blocked shots) leading the way on the glass.

"We definitely have a height advantage and we wanted it more," said Sloop.

Swanson said, "We working a lot on boxing out and we were aggressive. Everyone was hungry for the ball."

Proof of this was Christina Welsh, a 5-6 guard who hustled her way into the paint, which enabled her to contribute on the glass.

"I tried to get in good position and I jumped to get to the ball first," said Christina Welsh.

Freshman Morgan Moubayed (nine points, five rebounds, two forced turnovers) was tough inside and showed a strong upside. Also contributing for the Lady Trojans were sophomores Lianna Hursh (three points, five rebounds, two steals, two forced turnovers) and Sarah Schwartz and freshmen Emily Savitsky (two points, one rebound) and Anna Mahoney (one blocked shot).