RAYNE — Rayne coach Chester Randall made it no mystery what his team’s strength was and how he planned it to use it Monday night against St. Thomas More.
“Defense is what we do well,” Randall said. “I am not going to work on what other people do. As long as we do what we do well.”
The Wolves used a full-court press for the entire game and STM coach Stephen Strojny said they clearly did not handle it well. Rayne’s Whitley Larry had 14 points, but her 10 blocks were a difference-maker in the Wolves’ 57-34 win over the Cougars.
“Whitley is the reason we can put all the pressure on the full court,” Randall said. “When they do break the pressure, Whitley is waiting for them. Sometimes you give up easy buckets when you press, but having her back there, those buckets are still hard to come by.”
Charlesha Dugas led all scorers with 20 points, including 10 in the second quarter. Rayne pulled away in the second quarter, closing on a 13-2 run and taking a 33-18 lead into halftime.
“All year, we’ve been strong in that second quarter,” Randall said. “The pressure wears them down. STM did a great job at the start, but once they get tired, their mind isn’t as sharp.”
Strojny said the plan was to take the shots Rayne gave them, but Rayne didn’t give them many shots. Strojny said the full-court pressure was something they worked on all week in practice but couldn’t break it in the game.
“My biggest fear was that we wouldn’t handle the pressure, and we didn’t,” Strojny said. “It is hard to simulate that pressure. We were going to try to take what they gave us, but we really didn’t get a lot of shots. They dictated the tempo all game.”
Strojny commended Larry for being the difference-maker defensively.
“I saw some shots that our girls weren’t used to getting blocked and then some basic shots that got blocked,” Strojny said. “She is one of the best shot blockers in the state, and the best one we’ve faced all season.”
Rayne and STM combined for 64 turnovers — 24 of those from the Wolves. Randall said moving forward, that stat clearly must be reduced.
“We need to take care of the basketball moving forward,” he said. “That comes with the territory of running up and down the court. You have to take the good with the bad, but every game will get tougher.
“The good thing is, every year, my kids get more strong willed. I don’t even have to pull it out of them anymore. They just want it.”