The bread and butter for the co-Suburban Big Seven girls basketball champion Lee’s Summit North Broncos has been their defense.
They have held opponents to 46.7 points per game and have held opponents to fewer than 50 points 14 times going into Thursday’s regular-season finale at William Chrisman.
North didn’t allow the Bears to score in double digits in any quarter in a 42-30 victory.
The Broncos played solid man-to-man defense and didn’t allow the Bears to let their strong post players Jacque and Jennifer David get easy baskets down low. Chrisman accumulated just 10 points in the paint, stymied by North’s 6-foot-3 senior forward, Aiyana Johnson.
“They were trying to get it in the post, but we had Aiyana there and we had backside help,” said North guard Tiana Gipson, who led North with 13 points. ”It worked at well pretty well.”
Added Johnson: “I’ve known the Davids for a long time. Watching them play and knowing what they do helped with (her defense).”
Broncos head coach Tricia Lillygren was especially pleased with her team’s effort on defense.
“We did a lot of things right,” Lillygren said. “We helped on their post players. We covered the perimeter pretty well, I thought. We didn’t shoot as well as we had been, but free throws were pretty big for us.”
North’s defense limited Chrisman to just 11 first-half points. After being tied 8-8 going into the second quarter, the Broncos ended the half with a 21-11 lead thanks to a pair of baskets inside from Johnson and a pair of 3-pointers from Alexis Griffin. Chrisman, on the other hand, managed just one field goal in the period.
“I wasn’t real pleased with our effort,” Chrisman coach Scott Schaefer said. “We didn’t play with much enthusiasm or spark. When you play a great team like that, you have to be 100 percent. I didn’t feel we were.
“(North) is so physically gifted, and our kids are so young. We didn’t attack them as well as we could have.”
Chrisman focused its defense more toward stopping Johnson in the second half, and that freed up opportunities for Gipson. The senior guard scored five of North’s 10 third-quarter points as the Broncos took a 31-21 lead into the final quarter.
The Broncos then started the fourth in a on a 11-3 spurt powered by three free throws and a 3-pointer from Gipson, making it 42-24, North’s biggest lead. Chrisman went on a 6-0 run from there, but it was not enough.
“She’s quite the talent,” Lillygren said of Gipson. “She can deliver the basket and score the basketball and plays great defense.”
Amanda Szopinski led Chrisman (14-11) with 14 points and Jacque David added nine. Griffin finished with eight points for the Broncos (19-5).
North goes into the Class 5 District 13 tournament as the No. 2 seed and will face host Raymore-Peculiar in the semifinals Tuesday.
“We didn’t play well there the last time,” Lillygren said, referring to Ray-Pec. “We’ll try to play better. We came away with the win, but we have to play better.”
Chrisman is in the Class 5 District 15 tournament and will be the No. 3 seed as it takes on Liberty March 1 at Truman High School.
“Liberty is playing real well and beat Truman last week,” Schaefer said. “They’ve had some injuries and are getting closer to full strength. That will be a task similar to this one. We have to play a lot better than we did tonight.”