Since Presley Griffitts and Corinne Thomas joined the Tecumseh girls basketball team as freshmen in the 2015-16 season the Arrows have dominated the Central Buckeye Conference. Coach Danielle Thomas’ teams have won three straight league titles and are 36-2 in league games.
The Arrows’ early-season resume indicates they are again up to the job. They are 2-0 in league play after pressuring rival Kenton Ridge into a 54-31 victory Saturday night.
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school roundup
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school scoreboard
When London joined the league this year it was supposed to challenge the Arrows. But last Saturday night the Arrows beat London 104-42. Thomas made 11 3-pointers and scored 51 points.
This Saturday the Arrows (4-2) proved they can rely on other scorers and that their commitment to play more full-court press and pressure man-to-man defense this season was a good decision.
Griffitts at 5-foot-10 with her long arms has always been a defensive pest. She set the tone again in the press and scored the Arrows first 12 points, all on layups and half as a result of the press doing its job.
“Their pressure’s relentless,” KR coach Matt McCurdy said. “And then you throw Griffitts up there with how athletic and long she is and you think that you’re going to be able to throw over it and she gets her hands on almost everything. You can’t replicate that in practice. A lot of stuff that looked like it was open for us wasn’t just because of how good she is.”
When the Cougars (3-2, 0-2) ran their half-court offense, Griffitts as well as Thomas was helping Macy Berner to double-team KR star Mikala Morris. She entered the game averaging 25 points and was held to 13. The defensive pressure on the ball sped the Cougars up. They had trouble getting the ball to Morris and rushed too many open shots.
“We thought with our ball pressure we could definitely do a great job tonight and keep Morris at bay,” Thomas said.
The Arrows led 26-16 at halftime. Griffitts had scored 12 of her game-high 16 points. Thomas had not scored. KR’s Mariah Baker shadowed Thomas and rarely gave the sharpshooter room to even think about shooting. Others had open shots but they weren’t making many.
“They were yelling don’t guard Mastin and Pauley and leaving them open,” Coach Thomas said. “So that’s when I tell them ‘you guys gotta step up.’”
After Thomas made her only 3-pointer and points early in the second half, senior Mackenzie Pauley and freshman Mae Mastin started making shots. Pauley made three 3-pointers for all of her nine points and Mastin made two of her three in the half and finished with 15 points.
“When Corrine’s not scoring her 20-plus we have to lock down our defense, and I thought we did that,” Thomas said.
The Arrows are playing a more difficult schedule this year. They are playing bigger schools than what they face in the CBC and have remaining games against Centerville, Beavercreek and Springboro.
“We’re going to take some Ls, but we’re going to be good come tournament time,” Thomas said. “That’s why we can’t lay down for anybody in league because we’ve got to be ready for Centerville, we’ve got to be ready for Beavercreek.”
KR’s other league loss was by one point to Jonathan Alder. They’ve got time with 11 games before they play Tecumseh again to earn some league wins and be more ready for the Arrows’ defense.
“When we see them again in January it will be a measuring stick of have we gotten any better,” McCurdy said.