Alexander’s Defense Steps Up Against Wellston

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The Wellston Lady Rockets went into the Alley in Albany Thursday night and were blown away by the Alexander Lady Spartans, 64-23.

Alexander (10-2, 5-1) jumped on Wellston (1-13, 0-6) early with its full court press on defense and forced 10 turnovers in the opening quarter to give the Lady Spartans a 20-6 lead. Hard defense and low scoring continued, with the Lady Rockets  mustering only a single bucket in the second as Alexander’s lead grew to 39-8 at the break. The one bright spot for Wellston early on was Amber Kisor. She scored the Lady Rockets’ first six points, but had to sit out most of the second quarter with foul trouble.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Lady Spartans had forced 24 turnovers, which is more than Wellston scored. The Alexander defense was all over the place, swarming to the ball and not giving their opponents much room to shoot. The Lady Rockets actually attempted more 3-pointers, 23, than they did shots from inside the arc, 19. That’s because they couldn’t seem to get in the paint with the way Nicole Hudnall, Rachel Richardson and Leah Richardson were pressuring the ball and getting steals whenever Wellston tried to drive.

Since losing to Nelsonville-York on Dec. 17, the Lady Spartans are 4-1, with their only loss coming against an undefeated South Webster team.

“I think the loss to Nelsonville was good for us because it woke us up,” Alexander coach Cory McKnight said. “It made us refocus and realize we had to work to win. Ever since then we’ve been practicing harder, playing harder and I think we’ve played better every game.”

One area where Alexander has improved is fundamentals. The talent has always been there, but since that first loss, the Lady Spartans have been stronger with the ball, they’re making crisp passes and working the ball around. Their offense has a lot more movement and it shows in the box score.

Leah Richardson once again led the way for Alexander with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, but there were plenty of other Lady Spartans carrying some of the scoring load. Rachel Richardson had 13 points, 4 assists and 4 steals, McKena Rice added 14 points and 3 steals, and Jala Mace chipped in with 6 points and 7 boards. Alexis Mohler added three 3-pointers, and even though Hudnall didn’t get a shot to fall, she swiped 5 steals on the defensive end.

“Being ahead like that is good because it gives us a chance to work on some stuff,” McKnight said. “Our first eight players were in a zone defense, either half-court or full-court about 80 or 90 percent of their minutes tonight.”

That experience playing a zone could come in handy, as the Lady Spartans will be at a size disadvantage when they travel to Vinton County on Jan. 11 to take on the Lady Vikings (11-3, 5-1). The first time these two teams met, it took a game-winner from Leah Richardson to give Alexander the victory on its home court.