By Bonta Hill
The old maxim of “defense wins championships” held true to form at the Urban Holiday Shootout as Branson’s defense stifled some of the city’s best teams this weekend at Kezar Pavilion.
Branson put on a defensive clinic against Bay School as the Bulls captured the tournament championship with a 46-24 win on Saturday.
Branson (7-2) held Bay (5-3) scoreless in the first and third quarters and forced the Breakers into 25 turnovers and 9-of-33 shooting from the field.
”We’re going to be good if we can defend, [and] we’re starting to starting to figure out how to defend,” said Branson head coach Scott Davis. “They are buying into it, and if we can do that, we’re going to give [teams] problems this year.”
Branson also held Bay standout Mary Macleod to just six points in the championship, after she scored 33 and 25 points in the first two rounds.
Bulls guard Jenna Harris, who has the task of guarding the opposing team’s best scorer, shadowed Macleod all day, making it difficult for her to get into any offensive rhythm.
”I really have a defensive mindset and I just try to lockdown the opposing team’s best player,” Harris said. “I just pressured [Macleod] all over the court and went everywhere she went. It worked out well for us.”
She also got help chasing Macleod around from Lio Coito, who won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award and led Branson in scoring with 17 points.
Even though Bay struggled with turnovers throughout the game, momentum was clearly on their side going into halftime. Despite committing 15 turnovers in the first half, the Breakers got big layups from Macleod to cut the Branson’s lead to 20-15 at the break.
After the break though, the Breakers struggled and had more turnovers (9) than field goal attempts (6), and the Bulls blew the game open, scoring 15 points in the third frame to go up 35-15.
”I told the girls going into the game we have as much, if not more offensive punch as Branson,” said Bay head coach Larry Minnich. “However, I believe their worlds ahead of us on defense, and they have a good history of playing tough defense. I told the team that what is really going to decide this game was who plays the best defense, and it’s obvious who did.”
Although Macleod and the rest of her team struggled to find any offensive flow, she was still proud of her team and its unlikely run to the tournament championship.
“We knew that Branson was going to be really tough to beat, but we’re happy we had the opportunity to play in this game,” said Macleod, who made the all-tournament team. “Our goal is still to win the league, and repeat as champions.”
Lia Coito – 17
Lucy Briggs – 10
Alyssa Burnim – 6
Hannah Caine – 5
Leah Gray – 4
Clara Cardillo – 6
Mary Macleod – 6
Angie Matarozzi – 6
Sabrina Gershbein – 3
Julia Millhouse – 2