It’s that time of year for Apache Paschall.
The postseason starts in a few weeks and could come as early as the end of February if his squad needs to face Christ the King in a tiebreaker for the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I regular-season title.
So you could imagine the Nazareth coach’s frustration when his team started slow and was trailing a hot St. Francis Prep team by double digits in the second quarter.
“If they don’t [play hard] we are not going to be prepared for one of those real good teams we are going to run into, St. Anthony’s Christ the King, St. Peter’s,” Paschall said.
His squad eventually did wake up as the Lady Kingsmen used a 2-2-1 half court trap, their amoeba defense’s “baby cousin” to spark a run in the second and third quarter. Nazareth left Fresh Meadows with a 64-48 win against the Terriers in a girls basketball league game on Feb. 13. Taylor Ford scored 16 points and Darius Faulk and Bra’Shey Ali each had 13. Brianna Sidney added 11.
“Once we started listening to him it started working,” Faulk said of the 2-2-1 defense. “At first we were just doing our own thing.”
The Lady Kingsmen, ranked No. 16 in the country by USA Today, were over aggressive on defense, watching St. Francis Prep use screens and sharp passing to get open shots and offensively they were sloppy, committing turnovers and missing good looks. The Terriers jumped ahead 21-10 with 5:53 left in the second quarter on a Shatira Hamlet (12 points) layup and a Katherine Kraus (six points) free throw. Meghan Erdman added 10 points for SFP.
Like so many times this year it was Faulk that got her team going. Nazareth was more patient on defense, waiting for the Terriers pass half court before trapping and jumping into the passing lanes. The junior scored eight points during a 16-2 run, including a breakaway layup off a steal. She fed Ford for a 3-point play to end the half and give the Lady Kingsmen a 29-25 lead at the break.
“She is the point guard,” Ford said. “That’s what point guards do. She is at the top of the trap and she is fast.”
The Terriers, who were coming off league wins against Bishop Ford and Molloy, pulled within 37-31 on a Kraus jumper from the left side and 39-33 on a Jenna Halaby layup with 4:07 left in the third. Nazareth responded with a quick 9-0 spurt that Sidney started with a 3-pointer after Hamlet completed a conventional 3-point play down the other end. The Lady Kingsmen took a 51-38 advantage into the fourth and never looked back.
“With them staying where they are supposed to be and waiting for that first pass now they are more effective,” Paschall said.