Girls Basketball: Ridgewood’s defense overpowers Elmwood Park
Updated: January 20, 2012 11:30PM
After a lackluster first-quarter performance, Ridgewood decided to press the issue as they tightened the defensive screws and stormed by host Elmwood Park 53-40 Friday.
The Rebels (10-11, 3-5 Metro Suburban Conference) trailed 14-9 after the first eight minutes before they went to their full-court press against the Tigers (7-14, 2-5) – and things immediately started to swing in their favor. Elmwood Park had only one turnover in the first quarter, but under the pressure committed five of their eight in the second quarter during the first two minutes as Ridgewood outscored Elmwood Park 18-2 to take a 27-16 lead into halftime.
On the offensive side, Rebels junior Jackie Stroud (21 points, 10 rebounds, three steals) and senior Mallory McCormack (16 points, five rebounds, four steals) came to life as they burned the nets for 13 of the squad’s 18 second-quarter points.
“I wanted to pick the tempo up because I thought it was a little too slow early, so I got us in a press and we started to get some turnovers, started to get some easy baskets off of that, so that was huge for the girls just to get them going a little bit,” Ridgewood coach Karl Frixen said. “That’s exactly what (Elmwood Park) wanted, slow, methodical play so I took a chance with a press and it worked. They didn’t know how to break our press.”
Elmwood Park regrouped after the break, however, and got back into the game after Ridgewood’s 22-2 run continued into the third quarter.
The Tigers started to make their comeback run after a bucket by junior Becca Schmidt (six points) cut a 14-point Rebels lead to 31-20. That’s when junior Joanna Bukowinski (nine points, six rebounds) started to find the range after being held scoreless in the first half. She drained a three-pointer to bring the cushion down to 31-23.
Senior Adrianna Maron also as she hit two field goals and added a third bucket after a steal to cut the Ridgwood advantage to 34-29 with 1:46 to go in the third. After a clutch three-pointer by Stroud, it was Maron again with a swipe and a hoop to make it a 37-31 game as it headed to the final period.
Stroud’s eight third-quarter points helped keep the Rebels in front, but it was junior Ines Grepo who put the stamp on the victory in the fourth.
Grepo hit her first shot of the contest with six minutes to go in the final quarter – a bomb from beyond the arc – that turned a 37-32 lead into an eight-point cushion and she didn’t stop there. The 5-foot-7 guard canned another one from downtown and connected on a two-point shot from the floor as she scored all nine of her points in the second half – eight in the fourth. Stroud hit 13 of her 21 after the half.
“We had some lapses but for the most part we took care of the baskeball pretty well, moved the ball around well offensively, took our time and had good shots,” Frixen said. “When we played them the first time and lost we had good shots but just couldn’t hit them. Today we did.”
Stroud said she was happy to get a little revenge.
“I wanted to beat EP really bad because they beat us before and it was an important conference game for us,” she said. “I just went out today and tried to make my shots, get some offensive rebounds and step up my defense a little bit. If we continue to play together and play good defense good things will happen for us down the road.”
The Elmwood Park bench outscored Ridgewood 13-7, led by junior Olga Lipiszko, who hit a pair of treys in the first quarter and finished with seven points. Saldana Nikezic contributed five points for the Rebels.
“We didn’t play well at all tonight,” Elmwood Park head coach Brian Linhart said. “We came out kind of down and when we started to finally pick things up, it was too late. It was probably the worst game I’ve seen us play, and it’s very disappointing because it was Pack the Place night, it was against our rival. We just looked like we didn’t want to be here.
“We need more discipline. We gave up 13 offensive rebounds, we had 13 team fouls and way too many turnovers. I don’t think we gave Ridgewood enough respect. They beat Riverside-Brookfield, the best team in our conference, they hung with Guerin. They’re a good team. I give them all the respect in the world and I think maybe the girls just thought this was going to be an easy win.”