As they’ve shown during the second half of the season, the Titusville Rockets girls basketball team has been more competitive when facing their Region 4 opponents for the second time in the campaign. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to get that elusive first win.
Sharpsville won the first region contest on Jan. 29, 75-12, a game in which the Titusville defense allowed the most points in one contest to date this season. On Wednesday at the Launch Pad, the Blue Devils bested the Rockets, 58-17, which was a 22-point smaller margin between the two clubs.
Brianna Hanley scored a game-high 17 points and pulled down a game-best nine rebounds to lead the Blue Devils (5-5 overall, 5-2 Region 4) to victory. Allison Davis added 12 points, making three 3-pointers in the process.
Carly Moon totaled a career-high nine points for Titusville (0-12 overall, 0-9 Region 4). Isabella Sutley sank her first 3-pointer of the season, while Brooke Anthony and Lilly Tucker chipped in a 2-pointer each.
On defense, Sharpsville came out with a full court 1-2-2 zone press, and it did give the Titusville offense trouble. The Rockets were able to stay out of the traps, but were trying to connect on skip passes laterally across the court that ended up in the hands of the girls in blue more times than not.
“We were trying to swing the ball to the other side and when they would do that, they were successful at it,” Titusville girls coach Tom Jones said. “Sharpsville did a very nice job of not stopping the long pass, but anticipating the long pass. That’s what I was telling the girls. Even though it looked open, they’ll get there. It was just too enticing sometimes. It usually ended in a turnover. They did better as the game went on, but they needed to continue to swing the ball to the weak side with short and safer passes.”
Those turnovers led to transition buckets and other scoring opportunities for the visitors, who led 17-5 after the first quarter and 33-10 at the intermission.
However, there were plenty of occasions during the course of the action when the Rockets were able to beat the press and get into their offense — a step forward from the beginning of the season. Because of that, Titusville was able to post its second-highest point total of the season on their half of the scoreboard. Jones was pleased with how his team avoided being trapped.
“They stayed out of the traps and did a very good job,” Jones said. “There weren’t any jump balls as a result of the press all night. It was more a matter of getting anxious, seeing someone open that was more than one pass away and trying to make that. We need to work on our passing a lot more and play a little safer.”
The Titusville defense did force 16 Sharpsville giveaways of their own, as Jones was pleased with his team’s “aggressiveness.”
“We were much more aggressive and came after them instead of allowing the clock to run out,” Jones said. “The girls are getting much more intense and aggressive. They’re not used to playing that way, so it leads to mistakes or the other team getting open on back-cuts. But, I’d rather see that than just going with the flow.”
Jones also noted some individual improvement of players after the contest.
“Carly Moon has stepped up her game phenomenally,” Jones said. “She has a great first step. Brooke Anthony has been strong on the boards. All the girls continues to improve and do what I ask. We just need to take bigger steps instead of smaller steps.”
Titusville will have a chance to take a big step forward tonight when the Rockets host Wilmington at 7 p.m. in a Region 4 affair. The Greyhounds beat the Rockets 52-15 in their first matchup on Feb. 1.