BELPRE - Don't underestimate the value of defensive tenacity.
Belpre girls basketball coach Scott Miller called Monday's defensive performance against Trimble one of the season's finest and the Golden Eagles cruised past the Tomcats, 54-26.
How impressive was Belpre? For starters, the Golden Eagles limited Trimble to two field goals through three quarters. The Tomcats scored the first bucket of the game then went the next 13 1/2 minutes before Emily McKee knocked down one of her team's five 3-pointers. By that juncture, Belpre had padded their lead to 26-7.
Photo by Kerry Patrick
Belpre girls basketball coach Scott Miller, left, gives instruction to Lexus Cunningham during the Golden Eagles’ game with Trimble Monday night at Belpre High School. Belpre defeated Trimble, 54-26.
Trimble hit another dryspell from the floor as 11 1/2 minutes passed before the Tomcats knocked down just one of their eight field goals in the game.
Belpre pitched a third-quarter shutout and cushioned its lead to 38 points at 45-7.
"That was one of the best defensive efforts we've had," Miller said. "We were in their face, we were pressing them and forcing them to make bad passes.
"If you can go three quarters and limit someone to seven points it means you have improved on defense. And I think we have."
Belpre reserve Sierra Barker led all scorers with 16 points. The junior also had a game-high four steals to go with four rebounds. Teammate Hannah Lawrentz pitched in nine points, including three consecutive putbacks in the third quarter. In that period, the Golden Eagles scored 11 second-chance points. Also turning in a solid game on the stat sheet was Katelyn Hughes with eight points and a team-high six rebounds.
Against Belpre's lower-tier unit, Trimble started to find the mark in the fourth quarter. Morgan Murphy scored 10 of her team-high 11 points in the final eight minutes, while Emily McKee fired in a pair of 3-pointers as part of her 10 points.
With a road contest at Miller Saturday afternoon, Belpre improved to 10-2 and 6-2 in the Tri-Valley Conference's Hocking Division. The schedule doesn't get any easier. Still waiting for the Golden Eagles are games with South Gallia, Waterford and Eastern - not to mention a home-and-away series with Parkersburg Catholic.
Trimble drops to 1-12 and 1-8 in the TVC Hocking.
"We're Division III in Ohio and a lot of our schedule is Division IV so we have to continue to be ready," Miller said.
"We can't be satisfied with a few wins - we have to take care of business and learn a few new things."
After Trimble took a 2-0 lead, Belpre answered with 16 straight points during an eight-minute span. In the the next 3 1/2 minutes which ensued, the Golden Eagles allowed just two Trimble free throws and outscored the Tomcats 10-2 to pull ahead 26-4 at the 3:02 mark of the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Belpre blanked Trimble 17-0. Helping Lawrentz on the boards was Lexus Cunningham who scored all four of her points in the period.