SPRINGFIELD – Springfield never let Ascension Catholic get comfortable on offense, and it showed in the final score.
Springfield used pressure defense and its transition game to key a 62-40 win over Ascension Catholic on Friday.
“We’re defense first,” Springfield coach Billy Dreher said after his team won its second straight game. “We’ve got to try to press you a little and try to get some havoc and try to make you uncomfortable. We can’t just let you do what you want. Hopefully we get some steals out of that and it leads to some easy buckets, and it did tonight. I thought we played like we should.”
It seemed small at the time, but Katie Norman hit all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt to start Springfield on its way to the win.
“She made her free throws again, which was huge,” Dreher said of Norman, who led Springfield with 17 points while going 9-for-11 at the line. “I think the last two games now (Norman is) 18-for-22, so that’s come a long way for her and for us as a team.
“That play definitely kind of got us going and we kind of took off from there.”
Springfield worked its pressure defense and picked up defensive rebounds while limiting ACHS’ shots, keying a 13-1 run to close out the half.
“We have to try to win by our defense and try to get some easy buckets off of steals and some transition stuff,” Dreher said. “We got in a little groove and got some easy buckets there after a little while and started to pull away.”
Johneisha Joseph completed a three-point play after hitting a basket at the buzzer, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 16-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“It made us more excited,” Joseph said of the three-point play after finishing with 13 points. “It was a rush, more of a rush to do more in the second quarter.”
Springfield (10-8) stretched the lead to 22-9 on a pair of free throws by Norman before Ascension Catholic got a pair of 3-pointers from Kaitlyn Brooks, helping cut the lead to 24-12.
From there, Joseph scored six points in a 7-0 burst which extended the lead to 31-12. Springfield led 35-16 at halftime.
“I started to look at the floor more and go to more open spots, and Katie was seeing more and passed the ball,” Joseph said of the run.
Ascension Catholic turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter, but Springfield countered by working the ball inside. Lori Martin had a pair of baskets capping a run that stretched the lead to 50-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Everybody’s going to throw different look at you, so it’s always good to see it at different times in games, because you can’t always (simulate it) at practice with the pressure,” Dreher said. “Last game (a win over Woodlawn), they didn’t press us at all, so you know you’re going to see it soon in district play with different teams. I was glad to see them press us and get an opportunity to work on some different things.”
That’s when Dreher emptied his bench, allowing his younger players to get some playing time. Kayli Bennett and Chloe Spikes each scored four points for Springfield in the quarter as Ascension Catholic cut into the lead but not enough to threaten.
Jamiracle Joseph added nine points, and Grace Martin chipped in seven for Springfield.
“We don’t have a true JV team that gets to play a schedule, unfortunately we don’t have enough (players), so any chance you can get to get them involved and reward them for their hard work and practice time, you want to try to,” Dreher said. “I think most of them got to play about 10 or 12 minutes, and that was great for us.”