December 8th, 2018

Assumption seeks confidence as Butler rolls

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Assumption seeks confidence as Butler rolls

  For Assumption and Butler, a pair of girls’ basketball teams searching for their early season identities, the host Bearettes may have started to come clearer with a 72-44 win while Assumption still seems mired in a fog.

Butler (3-1) used its athleticism and quickness to force the Rockets into 23 turnovers, and when Assumption did hold onto the ball, they struggled to find any open shot or its big players down low.

Jaida Wiggins paced Butler with 14 points, while Tiarra East added 13 and Ashley Wright 10 as 11 players managed to tally points.

Butler coach Larry Just knows his team is young and despite leading the entire game, used timeouts as teaching moments.

“I thought we were kind of loose with the ball all night, and threw it around too much,” Just said. “We played more zone tonight than normal, but we are looking for our identity and tonight was a big step for executing that zone. We competed much better as a team tonight than we have so far this year and that’s good to see.”

It helped that his team shot a blistering 71-percent from the field including 13 of 16 in the paint and drained 7 of 11 three-pointers.

“They were long, athletic and quick and we weren’t strong with the ball making fundamental passes,” Assumption coach Stacy Pendleton said. “I don’t think we made a single pass fake, and we just didn’t take care of the ball. When we made a mistake, they took advantage of it.”

East got Butler rolling with a 3-pointer on their first possession, that started a 14-2 run before Payton Cronen’s runner gave Assumption just its second bucket with 3:52 left in the first quarter. The Bearettes then gave up one basket the rest of the quarter and sprinted to a 24-8 advantage.

Assumption’s shooting woes continued into the second quarter as they frantically tried to find anyone able to get a shot off, but often found themselves chasing Butler down court after a block or steal.

“They were obviously more athletic than us, but that shouldn’t matter if we still have heart and compete,” Cronen said. “We probably should have played a little harder, and we were still trying but we needed to play with a lot more motivation than we did.”

Abby McQueary and Cronen had the only two field goals of the quarter, and the Rockets made 3 of 5 free throws in the final minute.

But it was Butler getting balanced scoring on a pair of buckets in the final 18 seconds from Ashley Walker including a spinning one-hander in the lane. The senior then snared a perfect inbound pass from the sideline and laid it in with .05 left in the half for a 39-19 lead.

“We played as hard as we could, but we need to focus better on taking care of the ball because we know when we come down, we can’t make a lazy pass,” Walker said. “We have to make smarter decisions than we have been. But I think tonight was encouraging with the way we rebounded, pushed the ball in transition and were able to make things happen.”

Pendleton echoed that sentiment.

“The effort things we need to do like handling the ball and offensive rebounds we failed miserably at tonight,” Pendleton said. “At some point the girls have to get over the hump and fight, and I thought they might in the second half, but it didn’t happen.”

The Rockets (1-3) came out in the second half hoping for some type of spark and held Butler scoreless for the opening three minutes. Unfortunately, Assumption was only able to muster a single free-throw during that same span.

“We had a game plan and tried to execute it, but I don’t think that we believed in ourselves enough to risk that pass even if it was there, we didn’t believe that we should or could make that,” Cronin said.

From there Butler’s offense ignited with an East layup and the Bearettes boosted their advantage to 55-30 entering the final period.

“We need to get some quicker shots off, but I thought we got some really good deflections that led to good things,” Just said. “We have so many kids that haven’t played much varsity, and we need to get them minutes.”

Butler’s bench got a lot on much needed minutes in the final quarter after a three-pointer, put back and lay up by Wiggins made it 64-33 with 6:38 to play.

“We need to work on taking care of the ball and focus on converting those into points and not giving it right back to them,” Wiggins said. “We must work on defense and that will lead to good things for us at the offensive end.”

Cronen was the only Rocket to reach double figures with 11 points, with McQuarry and Megan Wellinghurst each chipping in with seven.

“Everytime something bad happened we reacted negatively and dropped our shoulders and didn’t fight back and we can’t do that,” Pendleton said. “Our will to compete is faltering right now. I can handle getting beat, but not the way we did tonight.”

For the contest the Rockets hit just 38-percent from the field and only a pair of 3-pointers. What kept them in the game was sinking 16 of 22 from the foul line. Butler took just two foul shots in the game.

“Coach Pendleton is really energetic, and we like that which is totally different than last year,” Cronen said. “We’re getting used to how he coaches, and we feed off of that. We need to trust in his energy, and we need to use that and gain confidence. We love our new coach, but it will take time for us to trust and believe in ourselves and each other.”



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