Girls Basketball: Transition game propels Bartlett to 8-0 startBartlett senior guard Janessa Baker at the Hawks are off to an 8-0 start and welcome fellow unbeaten Neuqua Valley tonight. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 5, 2011 6:15PM
Like any basketball team, Bartlett’s girls have an offense they can run — it’s just that they’d rather skip the formality.
The transition game is clicking so well for the Hawks this season that they’ve had the luxury of bypassing their halfcourt offense much of the time. Layups are coming at a rapid pace and it’s led to the fast start the program has become accustomed to achieving each season.
“Our defense is what our whole offense is based off of,” Bartlett senior forward Haley Videckis said. “It triggers everything. When we put good pressure on the ball, that’s just going to light up our offense.”
Whether in the press or by pressuring in halfcourt, the Hawks have been able to trigger one fast break after another in starting 8-0. They take that perfect record into an Upstate Eight Valley home contest tonight against another unbeaten team, Neuqua Valley (6-0).
“Defense is the hardest part of basketball, but it’s also the most important part,” said Bartlett guard Janessa Baker. “We work on defense almost all of practice and we really stress that because turnovers lead to fast breaks, and that’s our primary offense.”
In the first eight games this season, Bartlett has averaged 70.6 points per game while holding opponents to a 37.1 average. No one has been closer to beating the Hawks than Huntley in the opener (14 points). They cruised to the title in the Naperville Central/Benet Tip-off Tournament.
The defense has been so impressive that when the Hawks gave up 47 against Metea Valley last Saturday, they kind of walked away unhappy about their effort. After all, it was a season high for points allowed.
“That’s something that’s constant,” coach Denise Sarna said. “We can always play good defense and hustle on defense and work hard on defense. That’s something that’s on us.
“It’s usually a constant for all of us.”
Once the turnover occurs, the Hawks are all up the court fast. It isn’t just a case of Baker, the point guard, beating everyone up the floor to get the outlet pass.
However, if the unthinkable occurs and Bartlett has to set up in a halfcourt offense, they feel confident they can get to the hoop.
“I think we could play a halfcourt type game against someone,” Baker said. “Our offense works really well when we’re working together, setting screens.”
Bartlett’s versatility helps in this part of the game. Guards, forwards and post players alike show an ability to handle the ball or shoot from outside.
Lisa Palmer, Videckis and Kristin Conniff all stand 6-foot, but they shoot and run the floor in the break like guards.
“I guess we have players that are versatile, but we like those kind of players,” Sarna said. “If we had a 6-5 girl, we’d have her stand in there in the post, but we don’t.
“But I always think if you have the luxury of having tall girls who can go inside and outside, it just makes their defense work that much harder.”
After Neuqua Valley and Friday’s game at East Aurora, the Hawks have two tough back-to-back games at home (Dec. 13) against Waubonsie Valley and at South Elgin (Dec. 15).
“We’re really focused on the start of conference,” Sarna said. “This is an important stretch for us.
“These next couple weeks are ‘biggees’ for us.”
Elgin next season will host a city tournament, according to Maroons coach Nick Bumbales. Larkin, Westminster Christian, Elgin Academy and Harvest Christian will participate.
The only high school team in Elgin not playing will be St. Edward.
Huntley (4-2) goes for its fourth straight victory tonight at home with McHenry (3-4) in the Valley Division of the Fox Valley. The Red Raiders’ only losses came to area power Bartlett and to DeKalb (37-36). The Red Raiders have an even bigger home game Friday against Prairie Ridge, which has just one loss.
Dundee-Crown (2-4) and Florida Southern recruit Ali Sanders host Jacobs (0-6) tonight in an intradistrict rivalry game to start Valley Division play in the Fox Valley. Sanders scored 17 last season when the Chargers stopped a losing streak to the Golden Eagles. ... Streamwood hopes to turn it around tonight at Larkin in the Upstate Eight River after losing four of its last five games. Defense has been a Sabres problem as three of the four teams that beat them scored over 50 points. ... Burlington Central (3-4, 1-0), coming off a blowout loss to rival Hampshire Saturday, plays a key early-season Big Northern East game Saturday at Richmond-Burton (1 p.m.). ... Hampshire (2-5) plays its first-ever girls Fox Division game in the Fox Valley Conference tonight at home against Crystal Lake Central (4-3), one of the division favorites. ... St. Edward (6-2) comes off its huge Saturday win over Rosary tonight with a Suburban Christian Conference game at Walther Lutheran before hosting St. Francis on Friday.