A well-executed full court trap can make any team look sloppy, no matter how talented it may be.
In the championship game of the Dorothy Speck Memorial tournament, Carondelet — the fourth-ranked team in the state — pressed the Davis High girls basketball team into 38 turnovers. The result was a 78-35 Cougar victory at The Cage on Saturday.
The Lady Blue Devils (2-1) were coming off of an 77-56 win over Granite Bay on Thursday and a 62-55 victory over Campolindo on Friday, to reach the title game of their own tournament for the second consecutive season.
In the early stages of that championship contest, it looked like the matchup would be a back-and-forth affair.
After DHS won the tip-off, Carondelet created a turnover and scored an easy layup, but sophomore Rachael Allison — an all-tournament selection who led the Devils with 14 points — came right back to tie the game on a jumper.
Following another Cougar bucket, Davis junior Caitlin Mazzoleni showed off her post game by hitting a smooth turnaround with a defender on her back.
The two teams continued to trade blows until the score was 12-11, with the locals on top.
But after that, Carondelet’s full court press began to really make it tough on the Blue Devil ball handlers. The Cougars created turnovers on five consecutive possessions, and turned the 12-11 deficit into a 23-12 lead.
The athletic visitors often made it hard for DHS to get the ball past halfcourt.
“That team is precise. They trap very well and very quickly,” said Devil head coach Karen Foster. “We stayed back and didn’t come to the pass like we should. My girls panicked a little more than normal. They got bent back over and were forced to throw up lob passes.”
Davis’ defense also had problems with the talented Cougars.
CHS relied on its two star guards: Natalie Romeo, who was named the tournament MVP and nearly recorded a triple-double (19 points, 10 assists, eight steals) Saturday and McKenzie Cast, who scored 23 in the contest.
Romeo, who will play for Nebraska next season, consistently drove the lane, dishing out slick passes to the perimeter or another player on the inside.
Cast was able to do a little bit of everything — treys, pull-up jumpers and even a difficult spin layup in the first quarter.
Despite the skills of Cast and Romeo, Foster thought that her team could have done a better job.
“We matched up well with them,” Foster said. “We were taller than them, but they have a great point guard and she could just make things happen. My matchups were fine.
“I feel like we can match up with anybody; we have height, we’ve got quickness, we’ve got guards, but they were just a better team. They were just a really good, disciplined team.”
Last season, the Blue Devils faced a similar fate in the final of the Speck Memorial tournament, losing to Miramonte, 84-41. Like it was last year, when DHS went on to the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament, Fosters knows that facing a team that plays at such a high level will be benefit the Devils later in the season.
“The first thing is that we were playing the No. 4 team in the state; that’s where we want to play, we want to play those kind of games,” Foster said.
“It’s gonna really benefit us in the playoffs. Because that’s the caliber of teams that we’re going to see in the playoffs. We see up and down teams in the (Delta Valley Conference), which doesn’t help us. But playing teams like (Carondelet) is what is going to help us a lot during playoffs.”
Katie Grahn scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and added two steals in the title game, and was named to the all-tournament team, where she was joined by Allison and Emma Stenz, who pulled down 11 boards and blocked two shots against the Cougars.
On Friday, Mazzoleni scored 15 points and Sophie Seng had her best varsity game with 14 points and 10 rebounds as Davis held a double-digit lead on Campolindo for most of the contest.
Stenz added nine points and 10 boards of her own in the win.
“They like to play up and down the court and that is our style of play so we did a good job,” Foster said. “We moved the ball well and they were a physical aggressive team and I thought we did a good job of matching that.”
The Lady Blue Devils are back at The Cage on Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. matchup against Armijo.
— Reach Thomas Oide at email@example.com