Despite loss, Wauwatosa West girls' defense pays off
Turnovers hurt in semifinal loss to Bay
The Wauwatosa West girls saw their basketball season come to an end Friday night, as they dropped a low-scoring, defensive game, 27-21, at Whitefish Bay in a WIAA Regional semifinal.
Tosa West coach Ashley Imperiale planned to deny Maya Jonas, the Blue Dukes' 6-foot-2-inch junior center, the ball and play 4-on-4 against everyone else.
"We haven't done that all season, but we wanted to make Bay play to our advantage," she said. "They really look to her for points as she is a big D1 recruit and we wanted to make Bay beat us, not Jonas. So we denied and didn't let her get touches, and it really threw off their offense."
Fine defensive execution
Neither team made it to double figures in a quarter, but Bay won every quarter (6-5, 9-7, 5-4, 7-5) as the Blue Dukes also shut down the Trojans' offense, leading 15-12 at intermission.
"We packed it in the paint and didn't guard them outside of the 3-point line trying to play the percentages and our girls executed phenomenally and I really can't put into words how proud I am of the way they played," Imperiale said. "It was hands down a gritty defensive battle."
The Trojans had a number of open looks, but struggled to finish. With a minute to go in the half they led 12-11 and Imperiale wanted them to hold the ball and get one shot to end the half. But they turned the ball over and Jonas hits a tough shot at the buzzer.
"We go from playing 15 minutes of us being in control to that one minute and the momentum changed," she said. "I wasn't thrilled with that, but that's why you play two halves."
Trailing 15-12, the Trojans came out fired up in the second half and fought back, never letting the game get out of reach as they continued to play stellar defense and execute their game plan. But a few turnovers gave them fewer shot attempts and they were outscored 5-4.
Imperiale had special praise for Abbey Jones, Ashley Lindstrom, Latasha Harmon and Ashley Colebourne.
"Abbey Jones was a complete beast in the paint," she said. "I've never seen her rip down boards and protect the ball the way she did. She battled her heart out and that's what I've seen from her all season and off season and she's on her way to being a very special player.
"She kept us in the game on offense by cleaning up the boards on both ends and creating offense off the boards," she continued. "She's a kid you can tell to do something and she does it right away. We told her she could absolutely not put the ball on the ground in the paint and she was very deliberate in chinning the ball, using her pivot and going up strong."
Lindstrom and Harmon, who were ill for most of the week, got the tough assignment of taking turns denying Jonas and making her night harder.
"It's not easy to chase a player around all night and be screened and rescreened and then have to battle in the paint," Imperiale said. "The team held Jonas to four points and that's just gritty, determined, heart right there. This game was just a complete team effort all around."
Colebourne also came in and did a nice job on Jonas despite her 6-inch size disadvantage.
"She did a great job not letting her touch the ball and bumping her on the block and making her take tough, tough contested shots," Imperiale, who even credited the bench for helping out vocally.
"It was a total team effort from our bench being loud and calling 'shot' so they knew when a shot went up and could box out to the other four girls on the court switching onto her and calling out screens and doubling off their girls."
Jonas finished the game with four points, one point less than Madilyn Garcia, Ava Stock and Abi Harper.
Jones led all scorers with 11 points, while Harmon scored eight and Colebourne two, the only three Trojans to score.
"I give my players all the credit for laying it all on the line, playing their hearts out and trusting and executing our game plan to a T," she said. "They controlled the tempo of this game for 31 of the 32 minutes and deserved to play another day. But that's the madness of March. You can play the better game and still come up short and that's hard to swallow."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Wauwatosa West baseball coach sees improved pitching and defense ahead
- Wauwatosa East baseball swinging for consistency
- Wauwatosa West softball team edges Tosa East in thriller
- Wauwatosa East Sports Shorts: May 23
- SportsShorts: May 23
- Wauwatosa West girls track and field team wins West Allis Central Regional
- Wauwatosa East's Pridgeon wins both hurdle events at West Allis Central Regional
- Wauwatosa East girls track and field team send a dozen to sectional
- Wauwatosa West boys track and field team sends 15 to sectionals
- Red Raiders girls soccer had red-hot week