WINONA LAKE — The Lady Cougars did a pretty good defensive job on visiting Hamilton in the first half of their early game in Saturday’s girls/ boys doubleheader — they held their guests to 30 percent from the field and turned them over 15 times before the intermission. But LCA coach Allison Kaufman thought her girls had even more to give on that end of the floor.
They proved her right in the second half.
The Cougars held Hamilton completely scoreless in the third period as part of a 2-of-7 second half by the Marines, turned them over another 11 times and generally just shut them down on the way to a lopsided, 62-23 win.
“We talked at halftime about how we still felt we weren’t giving our best on the defensive end the first half,” said Kaufman. “The girls really came out in the third quarter and really stepped it up and showed just that even extra burst of energy and aggressiveness.”
LCA’s defensive effort also cued much of its offense Saturday.
The Cougars’ trapping halfcourt pressure yielded a total of 26 Hamilton turnovers, and the home team was happy to capitalize on those many fast break opportunities with 23 points off turnovers.
“We definitely took it halfcourt and aggressive with some traps up top, and the girls did a good job,” Kaufman said. “We’ve been talking a lot about capitalizing off our steals, turning our steals into points, and they did a great job on the other end of finishing tonight.”
LCA was led offensively by the sister act of Tori and Jessi Calizo. Younger sister Jessi knocked down a trio of 3-pointers on her way to 14 points, including 11 during the first half, while Tori poured in a game-high 20 points to go with 10 rebounds.
“The Calizos definitely play well together, and they just bring that effort and that heart. It’s something that we talk about every year is being able to have multiple threats from the outside and the inside, and both of them can hit the 3 but also attack, which really gives our offensive more threat,” explained Kaufman.
All told, eight players made the scoring column for LCA (5-4). Lauren Starrett and Abigail Fishel scored eight and seven, respectively, while Natalie Norris, Maddie Paris and Anna Reimink all chipped in four apiece. Reimink added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals for the home team.
“They’re almost too selfless at times, and I have to tell them to take those shots. But everybody who came in off the bench really did a great job of looking for their teammates, but at the same time we had some girls come in and step up. Natalie Norris did a great job off the bench coming out ready to shoot, which is what we need, and I was really pleased,” Kaufman said.
Autumn Graber scored 12 points with nine rebounds to lead Hamilton (1-3) offensively. Tori Creager finished with nine points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Marines.
LCA plays at Bethany Christian Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.