copyright the Chronicle February 5, 2014
by Richard Creaser
CRAFTSBURY COMMON — The Craftsbury Chargers girls varsity basketball team (13-1) executed a total lockdown defense on Monday night enroute to a 61-5 win over the visiting Websterville Baptist Christian School Warriors (3-11). Craftsbury Coach Rick Thomas said that he has always focused on defense as part of his team’s strategy and that focus certainly showed on Monday night.
“In a 120-minute practice, we spend about 80 minutes on defensive drills,” Coach Thomas said. “I’m not too worried about our offense. We have such a great depth of offensive talent that I would rather focus more on what we need to do defensively to win games.”
A lack of bench depth certainly hampered the Warriors. Of the nine players on the roster, only six suited up for Monday’s contest with a seventh attending though on crutches.
“I think that alone speaks to the great conditioning on that team,” Coach Thomas said of his opponents. “With only one sub, they were still able to play through the whole game.”
Having bested Websterville 73-20 in their only previous match on January 25 and with heavy schedules both before and after Monday night’s game, Coach Thomas let some of his younger players take the lion’s share of minutes. Among those younger Craftsbury players was eighth-grader Lynn Brown who led all scorers with 12 points on the night.
“We started out a little slow,” Brown said of the team’s eight-point first quarter. “But after that, we really picked it up.”
What never faltered was the team’s defense. The Chargers kept the Warriors to the outside, often with double coverage, that forced turnovers all night. Lightning fast passing enabled the Chargers to take the ball up-court and convert.
“We were just trying to push everything to the outside and lock it,” Brown said. “That worked really well for us.”
The game provided Coach Thomas with the opportunity to work on some new defensive alignments. The goal, he said, was to ensure that the Chargers would have some new tricks up their sleeves for late season rematches.
“This is a tough division and if you can’t adjust and adapt you won’t have much success,” Coach Thomas said. “One thing we have worked on is our match-ups. It’s something we need to improve at if we want to go further.”
Given the fact that the Chargers are in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, finding room to improve seems a monumental task. Coach Thomas insists it’s not. Every team can always find ways to improve, he said.
“Our defense was pretty tight tonight but we did leave some holes that could be exploited,” Coach Thomas said. “In a division like ours, if you leave those holes, someone is going to take advantage of them, and then we’re in trouble. So that’s my priority going forward.”
With only four regular season games remaining on the schedule the Chargers are set up for a return to the playoffs. How well the team performs down the stretch will determine their final seeding. That schedule does not, however, pit the number three Chargers against either first place Mt. St. Joseph Academy or second place Proctor Junior and Senior High. Playoff matches may be the first and only time Craftsbury takes on either of those opponents in their quest for the 2014 Division IV title.
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