FREWSBURG - The mantra heading into Silver Creek's Friday night contest with Frewsburg was simple: take it slow.
"We talked a lot about playing our game," Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice said. "About settling it down and not going at the same pace (Frewsburg) did because it would throw us off at the offensive end."
And when the Lady Black Knights did keep that game plan in mind, deliberately working the ball around the perimeter before dishing it down into the block to 6-foot-4 junior Jordan Brooks, they fared well. Case in point, Brooks, working within three feet of the hoop, netted 30 points and hauled in 19 rebounds.
Frewsburg’s Reyanne Strong shoots over a Silver Creek defender during Friday night’s Division 2 game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
But when they didn't, well...
You see, Frewsburg, the ninth-ranked team for Class C in the state, prefers to operate at breakneck speed. And whenever Silver Creek - through its slow and steady play - made the game close, the Bears would simply up the tempo and the visitors, unable to resist, would forget what they had talked about in the pregame and increase its own pace in kind. That led to turnovers, steals, easy Frewsburg baskets and, in the end, an 11-point Bears' victory, 63-52.
"Everybody gets caught up in that," Frewsburg coach Jeff Collver said of his team's periods of accelerated play. "I remember when I had slower teams and we'd get caught up in it, too. We would know we had to slow the tempo down, but that's the nature of basketball. When it starts going faster you go with it."
The Bears used this tactic to great success on two occasions - once in the second quarter after Silver Creek had turned what had been a 21-11 deficit early in the period into just a 25-22 disadvantage at the midway mark and, most importantly, in the fourth when the Lady Black Knights had fought back to within four, 47-43, after trailing just four minutes earlier by 15, 46-31.
During the fourth-quarter rally, the Bears' speed and pressure forced seven straight Lady Black Knight turnovers, helping the hosts pour in 14 unanswered points to balloon the once diminishing lead back to a more comfortable 61-43 with four minutes remaining in regulation, essentially ending the game there.
"We brought it (close) a couple of times and then just let it go," Rice said. "We have a difficult time playing with Frewsburg's speed, and when they picked it up they pressue so well that instantly the speed of the game is faster. My girls tried to play at that speed, too, but couldn't."
Not only was the increased pressure and speed a big part of helping the Bears to maintain, and grow, their leads, but so was the squad's senior standout, Shawna Raymond.
Raymond connected on 10 points in the second period after the gap closed and then added 10 more in the fourth, including nine during the pivotal 14-0 run, on the way to tallying a game-high 32 points to go along with nine steals, eight rebounds and three assists.
"Without her we'd have been in trouble," Collver said.
Also contributing with big points down the stretch were Reyanne Strong, who finished with 11 points, and Annie Berg, who scored 10 points, made 10 rebounds and handed out seven assists.
"Annie was huge on the boards - 10 is pretty good against a 6-foot-4 girl," Collver said.
For Silver Creek, meanwhile, Brooks was the lone player to reach double-figures, but Marissa Donovan chipped in with seven points and six rebounds and Jade Lewis had four assists and three steals.
The victory improved Frewsburg, fresh off a hard-fought victory over rival Randolph earlier in the week, to 12-1 overall and, in league play, a Division 2-leading 7-0. Silver Creek drops to 5-5 and 3-3.
SILVER CREEK (52)
Brooks 13 4 30, Donovan 3 1 7, Gorka 0 0 0, Lewis 1 0 2, Orr 2 0 4, Utegg 2 1 5, Jones 0 2 2, Law 1 0 2. Totals 22 8 52.
Raymond 13 3 32, Hair 1 0 2, Strong 4 1 11, Knight 1 0 3, Berg 5 0 10, Johnson 1 0 3, Cass 1 0 2. Totals 26 4 63.
3-point goals: Raymond 3, Strong 2, Knight, Johnson.
Silver Creek11 13 17 11 - 52
Frewsburg17 18 11 17 - 63