Brock Netter, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. Waverly had both factors working on Saturday.
The Tigers (2-1) used their experience and a 1-2-2 press to force 22 turnovers, which turned into a lot of fastbreak buckets, en route to a 54-35 victory over Jackson (1-4) in non-conference action.
“We knew that Jackson was a talented team with a bright future, but they’re young with starting four freshmen so we wanted to capitalize on their youth,” Waverly coach John Bonifield said. “[Jackson coach] Matt [Walburn] does a great job with that program, and you can see they compete hard and fight. They’re tough and they made us work for the win.”
While the defense put in work all day, the offensive output was just as stellar with four players finishing in double-digit scoring figures, led by Zoiee Smith with 14 points, 12 assists five rebounds and five steals.
Sarah Thompson added a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Kelli Stewart chipped in 10 points and six boards.
Carli Knight had 11 points, five steals and three assists, but her impact was mostly felt on the defensive end as she routinely clogged passing lines, causing turnovers and leading to transition baskets.
“We’re very fortunate to have Carli at the top of our defense, which helps dictate what we want to do,” Bonifield said. “We like to play fast, use our pressure to generate turnovers, get out and run. When we get into that mentality and execute it, we play harder, with more confidence, which means the girls are having fun and that makes it harder for every team.”
It took time for Jackson to figure out how to attack the press, and it was a rough start. Waverly forced six turnovers early as the Tigers jumped ahead 10-0, before finishing the first quarter with a 15-6 lead.
However, the Ironladies pieced together a 9-2 run behind T.J. Carpenter. A 3-pointer via Sydney Hughes cut the lead to 17-15.
The Tigers, in turn, ended the first half on a 6-0 run to control a 23-15 lead after forcing 15 Jackson turnovers.
Jackson came out strong to start the third, trimming an eight-point lead to 28-24 after a pair of buckets from Mattie Walburn.
But that’s when the experience of Smith began to take over. With the ball in her hands, she scored and assisted on the Tigers’ next nine points, ultimately creating an insurmountable double-digit lead at 35-24. From that point on, it was all Waverly as it closed out in the fourth for the win.
“We’re a very deep team and we have more than just one person who can score the ball,” Bonifield said. “This is back-to-back games where we’ve had four players score in double figures, and I think we’re starting to figure things out. Our depth and confidence is growing on both sides of the ball.”
Carpenter finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for Jackson, followed by seven points and five rebounds by Katelyn Webb.
Waverly returns to the court on Thursday at Oak Hill in SOC II action while Jackson prepares to host FAC foe Washington this coming Saturday.
Jackson: 6-9-14-6 — 35
Waverly: 15-8-14-17 — 54
Jackson: 13-44 FG, 6-9 FT, 3-11 3pt., 23 rebounds (Carpenter 8), 22 turnovers, 7 assists (Carpenter, Walburn 2). Scoring: Carpenter 11, Webb 7, Walburn 6, Hughes 5, Davis 3, Elliott 3.
Waverly: 23-51 FG, 7-20 FT, 1-6 3pt., 33 rebounds (Thompson 13), 15 turnovers, 12 assists (Smith 8). Scoring: Smith 14, Knight 11, Thompson 11, Stewart 10, Carter 6, Little 2.