By Zach Smart
When it comes to basketball gyms, Gerry Eckenrode has an elephant-like memory that dates back to his inaugural season on the sidelines.
Rewind the clock to Feb.28, when Delone’ ferocious second half spurt-ability propelled them past a Lancaster Mennonite in a 50-32 Class AA Tournament semifinal win over the third-seeded Blazers at South Western High.
Eckenrode noted that his team usually struggles shooting the rock at the Mustang Corral.
So, following an atrocious first half in which the Squirettes were mired in a brutal 5-for-26 funk and forcing a flurry of off-balance shots, Eckenrode refused to hit the panic button.
Eckenrode implored his team to keep enforcing its hounding defense, which held Lancaster Mennonite (a team which had hung 73 points in a thorough pasting of Hanover the previous game) to 15 first half points.
The zone defense that Delone floundered under in the first half (season-low 11 first half points) dissolved as the Squirettes fueled its transition attack. They did this by caroming rebounds and firing routine outlet passes.
McDonald’s All-American Sierra Moore got free via screens and shredded the Blazers on a surplus of strong takes to the tin. Getting loose in the open court would also bode well for Moore, who triggered an up-tempo game that left Lancaster Mennonite sucking back wind.
In its championship loss to York Catholic, Delone was heavily reliant on medium-range jumpers.
The Squirettes’ fourth quarter fight was squelched by its arctic shooting. Delone was a paltry 2-for-15 and misfired on its first eight shots before a boisterous Giant Center crowd.
Yielding a vital 7-0 spurt in the fourth quarter also hampered the Squirettes (21-5), which will need to shore up its inconsistency issues against South Williamsport.
Delone is slated for a Round 1 PIAA-AA matchup against South Williamsport on March 9 at New Oxford High. Tip-off time is 6 p.m.
South Williamsport features a dynamic forward in 6-foot-2 senior Tierney Pfirman. A Maryland-commit, Pfirman scores around the basket with ease but is perilous for her versatility. She can snipe from downtown. She contains a dependable mid-range game. You’ll even see her handling the rock and orchestrating the offense at times.
Pfirman, like Moore, is a considerable candidate for Gatorade State Player of the Year.
She’s also just as lethal in the open court and Delone’s been thoroughly schooled on transition defense.
South Williamsport executes a zone defense that will stick a hand in the grill of Delone’s steady fleet of shooters.
Thus, the Squirettes have spent practice time ironing out methods of getting open looks. Eckenrode wants his players rolling off of screens with time to pull-and-pop.
Delone must kick the habit of firing up ill-advised shots, a fatal flaw that derailed them in the first half against Mennonite and throughout the York Catholic loss.
“We just need to get the girls to be more consistent and get them in the spot where they can get the ball and shoot it without any pressure,” explained Eckenrode.
Delone will sit in a man-to-man defense. Moore will be marking up Pfirman, on whom she will apply aggressive pressure.
The key, Moore said, is keeping Pfirman off the glass. Delone must attack the boards better than they did against York Catholic. They tend to play better in a breakneck paced style, where they aren’t too dependent on the ol’ jumper.