SPRING VALLEY — The strategy sounds simple: neutralize your opponent’s strengths while ramping up your own.
The Hall Lady Devils did just that in defeating the St. Bede Lady Bruins at home Monday night, 34-21.
Hall coach Brian Holman will tell you it wasn’t as easy as it seems.
“I knew coming in we were gonna look like sitting ducks because they’ve played such tough teams,” he said.
Lady Devil points leaders Gabby Englehaupt (16) and Madison Soldati (15) led the charge from the start with 10 straight points before St. Bede junior center Naomi Ochuba put the Lady Bruins’ first numbers on the board near the end of the first quarter.
Ochuba tossed in four more of her evening total of eight points during the second quarter, but Hall took another run to bring the score to 19-8 at the half.
St. Bede coach Tom McGunnigal acknowledged the first goal was to get the ball to Ochuba early and often.
“It always is,” he said. “When we’ve got her inside, she will be dominant, and that helps open up our outside.”
“She’s become a heck of a player, “ Holman said about Ochuba, who moved to the United States from her native Nigeria three years ago. “A player you have to game plan against. She got us early, and we had to make some adjustments.”
Those adjustments limited Ochuba to only two more points for the rest of the game.
Another Lady Bruin strength compromised was the outside shooting tandem of Maggie Sons and Macy Bosnich, nearly smothered by Lady Devil defenders. Sons had four points for the evening while Bosnich produced five, with Carly Eustice chipping in another four.
“Our wings, Gabby (Englehaupt) and Hanah Hart have been tough,” Holman said. “That’s something we take pride in, is constantly trying to get a hand in the face and make shots tough. If the girls make them, they make them, but we’re going to put them in a tough spot to do it.”
St. Bede’s Sons and Eustice began the second half with a 6-point run to cut their deficit to 19-14 before Hall came back to increase their lead to 23-16 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter looked to be the start of a Lady Bruin rally as Bosnich got her first points of the evening with a three-pointer that got the St. Bede fans and bench equally excited.
Englehaupt and Soldati put a quick stop to that, combining to provide the Lady Devils with nine unanswered points, leading to the 34-21 final score.
“It just happened, “ Englehaupt said. “There was no plan, just get the ball and go. The points came so fast it’s hard to explain.”
From one rivalry to another, the now 7-1 Lady Devils will next play at Prouty Gym Thursday night against the Princeton Tigresses. The 0-8 Lady Bruins, meanwhile, will host Kewanee in a conference match-up Thursday.
Hall won the earlier sophomore game over St. Bede, 33-27.
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