River Valley’s stingy defense bounces Buchanan
By By ROB BABLER / Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN -- The Buchanan Bucks started the Class C District Basketball Tournament in their own gym Monday night hoping to three-peat, having won the two previous districts.
The Bucks, however, fell victim to a tight man-to-man defensive effort from the River Valley Mustangs, 36-27.
In addition to the Mustangs' tight defense, the inside presence of center Jami Grandholm (10 points) and the outside sharp shooting of reserve guard Brittany Warren (nine points on three 3-pointers) provided most of the offense needed to beat the Bucks, who had won three out of the last four districts.
Mustang coach Carol Grandholm was pleased with her team's defensive effort.
Points were at a premium in the first quarter, as River Valley pitched a shutout against the home team, 7-0. So stunning was the defense of River Valley, that the Bucks only managed five shots in the first quarter.
Grandholm said her team normally plays defense well, but this was a special effort.
She said their focus the whole game was to stop Buchanan's primary three-point threats, Ashlee Layher and Ali Bender.
The Mustangs continued the shutout early into the second quarter, moving to 9-0 on guard Megan Koebel's field goal. The Bucks finally got onto the board about two minutes into the second quarter on guard Sheena Bradshaw's basket.
Weaver said that early hole might have been too deep to get out of.
Following Bradshaw's basket, River Valley scored four more points on baskets by Grandholm and Koebel to make it 13-2 midway through the quarter.
In addition to Valley's defense, once the Mustangs held the lead, they were patient on offense. An example of this was a basket down low by Noelle Dryden to make the score 15-5. The offense worked the ball around the perimeter and down low for more than a minute before finding a small crease in the Buck defense.
Buchanan made a small run at the end of the second quarter, with Layher connecting on a 3-pointer to make the score 15-8 shortly before the horn.
That run continued in the third quarter, as Buchanan held River Valley scoreless in the first half of the third quarter. Another Layher 3-pointer closed the gap to two points.
But the Mustang defense tightened even more. Following a put-back basket by Mustang forward Katie Dina, guard Jenny Sanders registered two steals that both resulted in fast-break baskets to widen the lead to eight points, 21-13.
Buchanan never got to within five points after that, being held at bay by Grandholm and Warren, whom coach Grandholm complimented after the game.
Although the district streak has been broken, Weaver praised his team's effort.
Ali Bender led Buchanan with 10 points, while Dee Dee Thompson added seven points.
River Valley: Megan Koebel 3 0-0 6, Jenny Sanders 1 2-5 4, Noelle Dryden 1 3-8 5, Katie Dina 1 0-0 2, Jami Grandholm 5 0-0 10, Brittany Warren 3 0-0 9. Totals: 14 5-13 36
Buchanan: Dee Dee Thompson 3 1-2 7, Ashlee Layher 2 0-0 6, Sheena Bradshaw 2 0-0 4, Holly Tibbs 0 0-4 0, Ali Bender 3 3-5 10, Lindsay Colip 0 0-0 0, Michelle Johnson 0 0-2 0. Totals: 10 4-13 27
River Valley 7 8 11 10--36
Buchanan 0 8 10 9--27
3-point shooting: River Valley 3 (Warren 3), Buchanan 3 (Layher 2, Bender). Team fouls (fouled out): River Valley 15 (Sanders), Buchanan 17 (Thompson). Team records: River Valley 17-4, Buchanan 13-8