RAYNE — The Rayne girls basketball team builds its offense around its defense, and Benton got a first-hand look at how effective that strategy can be as the Wolves cruised to a 64-41 win to advance to the 4A state quarterfinals.
How effective was the Rayne (30-2) defense? It took Benton (26-10) until midway through the third quarter to string together baskets on consecutive possessions.
“Defensively, that’s our style of play,” said Rayne coach Chester Randell. “We set the tone on defense, and that’s where most of our scoring comes from. We pride ourselves on defense.”
More often than not, it was guard Charleshe Dugas applying the pressure. The first basket of the game came on a Dugas layup off a steal, and that was a regular theme Monday night.
Dugas finished with a game-high 21 points, many of which came when she pilfered the ball from a Benton passing lane and raced down to the other end for a score.
“She do what she do,” Randell said. “That’s a special kid.”
But early on, Rayne had to depend on some other players for scoring.
During Randell’s film evaluation of Benton, he noticed they mostly play a matchup 2-3 zone. But they came out Monday night in a box-and-1 defense aimed at taking away Dugas.
The other five players in Rayne’s regular rotation were ready to capitalize.
“We’re a six-headed dragon,” Randell said. “You take away one head, you’ve still got the other five heads to worry about. And (Keysuana Moore) and (Tajane Butler) had big nights tonight. They stepped up.”
Moore and Butler both knocked down 3-pointers in the first quarter, combining for eight points as the Wolves built a 15-5 lead in the first quarter.
The duo hit five more shots from beyond the arc, with Moore connecting on five 3-pointers of her own in the game to finish with 20 points.
“That’s big,” Randell said. “We’re either on or off with that, and tonight happened to be one of the nights where (Butler) and (Moore) really stepped up and knocked down the 3s.”
And with the Wolves playing such aggressive defense, Benton was never able to recover.
Rayne outscored Benton by 10 points in the first, second and third quarters, building its lead to 30 points by the end of the third. The Wolves led by as many as 32 late in the third.
Benton showed some pluck in the final period, going on a 17-6 run to trim the Wolves’ lead to 19 with a few minutes to play. Randell said the first 24 minutes allowed his team to play the fourth quarter with an eye on the future.
“Normally we like to go for the other team’s throat, but we wanted to make sure we were healthy for the next round,” Randell said.
A trip to the Top 28 will be on the line Thursday when the Wolves take on No. 14 seed Fair Park, which upset No. 3 seed Loranger 58-57 Monday night.