Dominant, smothering defense was a catalyst in the Dripping Springs Lady Tigers’ 66-11 win over the Austin Reagan Raiders Friday.
Dripping Springs (16-11) displayed its prowess on a night where the community honored the 25th anniversary of the 1994 Lady Tigers’ 3A state hoops title.
“It was an exciting time, almost like a playoff atmosphere, you know having a lot of people in the stands and having that state championship team here,” Dripping Springs head coach David Norris said. “That’s something we’ve talked about as a team that we’d like for our program. So it’s great to see here in Dripping Springs, we’ve had it, and that we can have it again.”
Dripping Springs was able to overcome some early jitters by getting easy fast break points off of 11 forced turnovers, Norris said.
“Coming out playing hard and playing excited, that’s what I wanted to see,” said Norris. “Got a little bit of sloppiness, but we recovered. Came out strong and got the win.”
The Lady Tigers full-court press defense suffocated Reagan into 33 total turnovers in the game.
Dripping Springs’ speed and length on defense prevented Reagan shooting opportunities and its ability to set up plays in the half-court. The team’s full-court press defense is becoming a staple under Norris, and has been highly effective so far in district play. The Lady Tigers have outscored their opponents 199-55 over their last three home games.
“The girls kind of understand the rotation, and that’s the key,” Norris said of the press defense. “We may not get the first steal, but later on we may get the second or third pass, or force them to go faster than what they normally want to do.”
Senior point guard Kennedy Donovan led the team in scoring with 13 points, six assists and eight steals in limited minutes, while sophomore guard Caroline Gamble contributed 10 points and four rebounds in two quarters of play.
With Dripping Springs starters roughly playing two quarters of the game due to a large lead, Norris got an extended look at his players coming off the bench. Norris was impressed with senior guard Grace Fowler’s play, along with juniors Carson Hall and Avery Johnson.
“I think Carson Hall did a good job of coming in and running the point, keeping us doing the things that we want to do.” Norris said.
Hall had three points, four assists and two steals during her two quarters of play. Norris lauded Hall’s control of the offense with good pacing and crisp passing.
Meanwhile, Johnson also had a dominating performance in the paint, with nine points and seven rebounds off the bench.
“Avery Johnson is our backup five, she’s been coming in and doing a great job,” Norris said. “I tell her I have two starters at the five, her and Kline (Stafford) complement each other, and Avery did a good job at taking it to the basket.”
Dripping Springs continues district play Friday at Crockett High. The Lady Tigers return home Jan. 25 against LBJ. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.