by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
A much stronger defensive effort and big offensive nights from seniors Phillis Webb and Janay Morton sparked Osseo to a 62-52 home win over Maple Grove in Northwest Suburban Conference girls’’ basketball Feb. 15.
The Orioles used a stifling defense and physical play to grab a 35-19 halftime lead. The Crimson settled down in the second half but could not make up the big deficit. Webb led all scorers with 23 points, Morton added 20 and Ayo Porte had 11 points and 9 rebounds.
“We got off to a great start. We have been working very hard to improve our defensive intensity as a team as well as our patience on the offensive end — especially against zone defenses,” Osseo coach John Rieser said. “We felt that we did both of those things in this game.”
“We struggled to match their physical play early,” Maple Grove coach Mark Cook said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well and against a team like that you have to take advantage of the opportunities they give you and I don’t feel like we did that. Our kids fought hard in the second half but against a good team like Osseo you have to play a complete game.”
Osseo’s improved play on defense was the key to victory. In the first meeting, Maple Grove senior guard Angie Davison torched Osseo for 31 points. Last week, Davison got 17 points but was the only Crimson in double figure.
“We kept Maple Grove from getting the wide open looks at three-pointers that they got in the first game by playing really good team defense,” Rieser said. “We realize that a player like Angie Davison is going to get her points, but we really focused on making her work for her points, while trying to keep someone else from hurting us. Ayo Porte, Belinda Barfknecht and Madi Malone really stepped up defensively. Phillis Webb, while working very hard on the offensive boards, also worked hard on defense. Janay Morton also worked hard on both ends of the floor. Her steal and shot with under 1 second left in the half really gave us momentum that we never really relinquished.”
The Orioles improved to 15-4 in the conference, trailing Centennial (16-3) by one game in the race for the conference championship. They can earn a share of the conference title if they can win at Centennial Friday, Feb. 22.
The Crimson host Elk River Thursday, Feb. 21.
Contact Bob San at email@example.com