By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– The strategy against Gervais for Blanchet Catholic in trying to slow down their offense and to test their defense was to press them early and often and feed their offense off of that.
And for the first quarter, it worked as the Lady Cavaliers built a 20-8 lead entering the second quarter with all the momentum in the world in their favor.
“We wanted to press and we wanted to kind of get it going early from the beginning, like really jump out on them,” said Blanchet’s Trinity Phipps on the game-plan against the Lady Cats. “We had a really good first quarter, then we didn’t really play that great in the second quarter so we just kind of had to battle for the rest of the game.”
For Gervais, they could say as well that they had a great rest of the game after the first quarter as well because as the Cavaliers tapered off the gas a little, the Cougars jumped on it and slowly began to chip away at the lead.
For a group mixed mainly of freshman and seniors, they looked like a well-oiled machine for the final 24 minutes outside of a few miscues that slowed them down a bit as they turned a 12 point deficit into a 27-25 ball-game by the middle part of the third quarter.
Part of it was just trying to connect-the-dots with their energy.
“Our coach was just like gave us some positive stuff and we had all of this energy,” said Gervais freshman Araceli Vasquez. “In the beginning (Head Coach Kyle) Buse told us, all of us, ‘hey, save the energy on the court’. With him talking to us, we got all of this energy and we went out there and did our best.”
“In the first half, we didn’t do a good job communicating and that made a difference in the game,” Herinckx continued on the switch behind flipped in the turn-around.
For parts of the game, the Lady Cats Natali Herinckx was on Ana Cornando, holding the junior to eight points in the contest, including zero in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously, she’s a very, very well-rounded player. But as a team we needed to focus on our defense and not nesscarily her, but just rotations,” said Herinckx about Cornando and the defense that held the Cavs to just 21 points in the last three quarter, two of which Gervais held Blanchet to five points in a quarter.
The Lady Cats had two lay-up chances that could have either tied or even possibly take the lead however, but couldn’t connect with the Cavailer defense clamping down behind Cornando and held Gervais to eight points in the remainder of the game after the 27-25 score in the 41-33 victory Friday evening.
With Blanchet finishing up the first half of league 5-1, a game behind their rival in Salem Academy and two ahead of the three-way tie of teams behind them, a game like this can be a learning experience for them as they are where they want to be entering the latter half of the year.
“I think instead of one quarter, I think we can play three more,” laughed Bailey Hittner who had two points in the win. “It’s good, it’s where we want to be right now. We got Salem Academy up we’re excited for that now.”
Phipps finished with 10 points and Hailey Ostby had a team-high 11 points for Blanchet
Gervais, who are one of those three-teams behind the Cavs at 3-3 along with Jefferson and Colton, seeing how they pair up against an Elite 8 team like the Lady Cavailers as Buse and Blanchet Catholic Head Coach Ron Hittner traded a few friendly words post game following the post-game handshakes, can give them the motivation entering the final six games of the season entering league playoffs.
“It’s a confidence builder, I mean we didn’t win but they are the number-three team in the State and the defending State Champs,” said Herinckx “So after Tuesday (loss to Colton), it’s definitely going to help.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald