South girls hoops too much for North

Blue Devils use pressure defense to defeat rivals

By: Thomas Franz | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 22, 2014

 Grosse Pointe South senior Bre’nae Andrews takes a shot against Grosse Pointe North on Jan. 17. Andrews finished the game with four points and 10 rebounds.

Grosse Pointe South senior Bre’nae Andrews takes a shot against Grosse Pointe North on Jan. 17. Andrews finished the game with four points and 10 rebounds.

Photo by Roy Feldman

GROSSE POINTE — From the opening tip, it was clear that Grosse Pointe South had one plan to defeat its crosstown rival. That plan was to apply pressure on defense and force turnovers to convert into easy buckets.

South did just that, as the Blue Devils jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the first quarter and never let up, going on to win 53-30.

“We’ve had a little time off, so we’ve focused on conditioning, and I thought we saw it while running the floor. We got some transition layups, and I thought the pace of the game definitely favored us,” South coach Kevin Richards said.

Junior guard Cierra Rice scored 19 points to lead the Blue Devils. Aliezza Brown came off the bench and chipped in with 11 for South to go along with four assists and four steals. Blue Devils Sophomore guard Anna Carmody added nine points and six rebounds.

“That’s when we’re at our best: when we’re pressuring the ball and creating turnovers,” Rice said. “It’s our main focus as a team to pressure the ball and get steals and deflections. Defense is the most important thing to our team, so we really pride ourselves on that end, and I think we did a pretty good job of that today.”

Jayla Hubbard led North with 12 points, and sophomore forward Lucy Dodge added six points and five rebounds.

“I wanted to control the ball offensively a little bit more. We took some quick shots that we didn’t have to take, and that hurt us,” North coach Gary Bennett said.

North was without starting point guard Maria Liddane, a senior who was injured earlier this season. Liddane’s presence was missed as South forced North into 25 turnovers, but Bennett said he was encouraged by the way his inexperienced guards played against the Blue Devils’ pressure.

“Given the fact that we lost our point guard and we’re all learning, I was pretty pleased with a lot of the things that we did with the ball,” Bennett said. “We actually were tougher with the ball tonight when we were getting pressured than any other time in the year, so I thought I saw a lot of growth in my kids in that respect, and I’m encouraged that we’re just going to get better and better.”

In addition to solid guard play, South also got contributions inside from Bre’nae Andrews, who had four points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore center Benna Ames, who finished the game with six points and eight rebounds.

“We have 11 girls on the team and we try to play 11 kids. … We’re young, but a lot of those kids are really starting to pick up the speed of what we want. We’ve really turned the corner the last two weeks, both offensively and defensively,” Richards said.

Andrews is the lone senior on South’s roster, and that fact has made South’s improvement this year especially pleasing to Richards.

“It’s nice, as a coach, to come every day and seeing the kids, as young as we are, to see them getting better and better,” Richards said. “I’m excited; defensively, they’re getting better, and offensively, we’re sharing the ball much better.”

South (11-1) will travel to Utica Ford on Jan. 21, while North (5-4) will host Chippewa Valley on the same night.