Clay-Battelle girls douse S. Harrison with defense 223

BLACKSVILLE — Clay-Battelle’s girls’ basketball team couldn’t get many shots to fall Jan. 23, but a smothering defensive effort helped the Cee-Bees pull off a season sweep of South Harrison in a 37-20 victory, at Statler-Wilson Gymnasium.

“I thought we played excellent defense,” C-B head coach David Joyce said. “We played a little bit of jump defense, And the girls played man-to man and did a super job of adjusting to South Harrison from the last time we played them.”

The defensive strategy entering the game was to contain South Harrison’s Kylie Saltis and Jenna Montgomery, a pair of sophomores who combined for 41 points in the two teams’ last meeting, a 54-46 C-B win.

“We picked up a couple kids who really hurt us last time, and we neutralized them,” Joyce said. “Saltis hit eight 3s last time, and Montgomery had 15 points, so we knew we had to neutralize them. That was a focus for this evening, and it paid dividends.”

The Hawks had trouble filling the court out properly on offense, allowing little scoring opportunity and giving C-B a window to lay the pressure on its opponents without having to cover much ground.

“I think we did a good job on defense tonight by taking advantage of how bad their spacing was,” said Cee-Bees senior Haley Barr, who led the charge with 13 points for her squad. “We matched up with them well and kept the two good girls inside.”

Joyce also shined in hustle situations, going the extra mile to win 50-50 plays and put in effort where many don’t.

“I really appreciated our kids’ hustle,” Joyce said. “We were on the ground a lot of times getting some loose balls. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t, but the effort is well worth the pain you go through to get the results.”

Offensively, the Cee-Bees achieved solid ball movement and opened up scoring opportunities across the floor, but struggled to score with consistency regardless. However, Joyce wasn’t upset with the effort, and sees positives to take from it.

“Offensively, I thought we had good open looks. Not everything went, but we had good looks,” he said. “That stuff will start dropping, hopefully in the next game, next part of the season.”

Even with the shooting struggles, C-B excelled behind the arc, draining five of their 13 shots from 3-point range.

“A lot of our practices have been more geared toward shooting,” Joyce said of the effort. “We know we don’t have a big girl inside, so we have to open ourselves up for some outside looks. Looking at the open shots tonight, well, when you have a green light, you shoot.”

The win moves C-B to 7-5 on the season. The Cee-Bees will return to action tonight as they travel to Valley (Wetzel) for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

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