The Vandalia girls basketball team’s defense is already in midseason form.
South Central and Alton Marquette can attest to that after suffering a combined 60 turnovers against the Lady Vandals in their first two games.
VCHS’s offense isn’t quite there yet. But thanks to the former, it hasn’t mattered, as the Lady Vandals have raced out to a 2-0 start with a pair of defense-dominated double-digit wins.
A flurry of steals midway through the first half allowed the Lady Vandals to open up a big lead Monday at Marquette. VCHS nearly squandered that lead in the second half, but the Lady Vandals recovered with a 22-11 advantage in the fourth quarter to go on to a 51-38 victory.
‘We kind of lost our composure in the third quarter and didn’t take care of the ball well,’ Vandalia coach Mike Butler said. ‘It’s a learning process. But I thought we did a good job in the fourth quarter.’
Nine third-quarter giveaways helped Marquette close a 25-14 halftime gap to 29-27 with a minute to go in the third.
But an old-fashioned 3-point play by Cassie Warner got the Lady Vandals back on track. And it was a play like so many of the Lady Vandals’ successful possessions on the evening – an easy bucket on a cut to the hoop which was set up by a nice pass, this time coming from Emily Shields.
The Lady Vandals finished with 11 assists on the night.
‘When we run our offense right, we get some easy baskets off of cuts,’ Butler said. ‘We just have to care of the ball. I think as we keep playing, we’ll get better at it.’
Shortly after Warner’s 3-point play, Vandalia embarked on a 12-0 run to put the game away.
The Lady Vandals showed how good an offensive team they can be during the decisive fourth-quarter run by scoring in a variety of fashions.
Shelby Cearlock got things going with back-to-back jumpers, and a drive to the hoop by Warner and a post-up bucket by Laura Hobbie followed.
The run was highlighted by a Hobbie 3-point play off a transition feed by Warner.
As good as Vandalia’s offense was in the final quarter, the key to victory traces back to the midway point of the first half, when a flurry of steals sparked a 10-0 run that gave the Lady Vandals a lead they would not relinquish.
Marquette wound up turning the ball over eight times during an eight-minute span, helping VCHS take its biggest lead, 25-10, late in the first half.
Marquette finished with more than 20 turnovers in the game.
‘That’s our strong point, especially at this point of the season,’ said Butler of his defense. ‘Our first two games, we’ve put pretty good pressure on our opponents.’
The Lady Vandals showed off their depth and balance, as eight players got into the game and six registered in the scoring column.
Hobbie and Warner led the way with 11 points apiece. Hobbie pulled down a team-high nine rebounds, while Warner had three steals and three assists.
Cearlock added 10 points, while Shields had six points, five rebounds and five assists. Amanda Walton led Vandalia’s first-half surge with all seven of her points.
The Lady Vandals (2-0) can now look forward to back-to-back home games. They will host Gillespie Thursday before a Saturday matinee against Piasa-Southwestern. Marquette falls to 2-5.
Vandalia also took the JV game, 28-24, as Kayla Houston led the way with eight points. Brittaney Bennett, Tori Hagy and Kris Stunkel added four apiece.
Varsity Box Score
Vandalia 14 11 4 22 – 51
Marquette 8 6 13 11 – 39
Vandalia scoring – Walton 3 2-2 7, Banal 3 0-0 6, Warner 5 1-1 11, Cearlock 4 2-4 10, Hobbie 5 1-1 11, Shields 3 0-1 6. Totals 23 6-9 51.
Records – Vandalia is 2-0, Marquette is 2-5.
Last Tuesday’s Game
South Central 16
Vandalia’s full-court press and 2-3 zone gave South Central fits from the get-go – forcing the Lady Cougars into 39 turnovers – as the Lady Vandals cruised to victory in their season-opener.
‘We’re trying to be more aggressive on defense, and I thought we did well tonight,’ Butler said. ‘We did a few things wrong, but that’s part of the learning process, and we’ll get better at it.’
The Lady Vandals got off to a slow start offensively, but thanks to their defense, the game was never in question.
Hobbie led a balanced scoring attack with 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting. The junior forward added five rebounds and two steals.
Banal added 12 points and five steals, and Amanda Walton had five steals as well.
The Lady Vandals wound up shooting a respectable 44 percent from the floor (22-for-50) after a shaky start.
‘Offensively, this is our first time out against somebody else,’ Butler said. ‘You just have to get some ballgames under your belt to get better, I think. We did some good things there, too. We missed some easy shots and stuff, but, hopefully, later on we’ll be making those.’
The Lady Vandals showed off their depth, as eight players registered in the scoring column.
‘We’ve got some depth with this team, so we hope to get a lot of people involved,’ Butler said.
Audrey Matheny led South Central with four points and 10 rebounds.
Houston chipped in six points for the Lady Vandals in the varsity game, and she scored all 10 of her points in the first half the Vandalia JV team’s 39-12 win over the Lady Cougars.
Varsity Box Score
Vandalia 11 16 14 10 – 51
South Central 2 3 2 8 – 16
Vandalia scoring – Walton 1 0-0 2, Durbin 1 0-0 2, Houston 3 0-0 6, Hobbie 8 1-1 17, Cearlock 2 1-8 5, Banal 6 0-0 12, Shields 0 2-2 2, Warner 3 1-2 7. Totals 23 5-13 51.