Improvement in handling defensive pressure is on top of the to-do list right now for the West Albany High girls basketball team.
The Bulldogs struggled in that area Wednesday against Roseburg and again Friday, when they committed 27 turnovers in a 55-30 home loss to Grants Pass.
The turnovers kept West from getting into its halfcourt offense, where the Bulldogs were solid once possession was established across the midcourt line.
“Turnovers and lack of rebounds early. We just came out flat,” West coach Shawn Stinson said. “That’s just hard for me to say because we responded Wednesday from some intensity when we figured out that the game isn’t going to slow down. We matched their intensity in the fourth quarter and we played like we should play.”
West’s Danae Greig had a team-high seven points and Grace Getsfrid and Georgia Smith added six apiece. Alyssa Etheridge had 13 for Grants Pass.
The Bulldogs (0-2) struggled against the Lady Cavers’ full-court press that helped Grants Pass (1-0) jump out to a 20-7 lead after one quarter.
West had offensive lulls that allowed the visitors a 10-0 run in each of the four quarters.
Grace Getsfrid’s 3-pointer cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 20-13 in the second quarter, but Grants Pass answered with 10 straight points. West closed the half with an 8-3 run — four by Greig — to make it 33-21 at halftime.
The Lady Cavers put the game out of reach with a 10-0 run to start the second half. Abby Scheele and Greig sparked the Bulldogs with 3-pointers late in the third as West held Grants Pass scoreless for the final four minutes of the period.
The Lady Cavers, who won two games between the two teams last season, also scored the first 10 in the fourth before Alyssa Walls snapped it with a long two-point shot.
West Albany has four returners off a team that went 9-16 last year with a season-ending loss to Grants Pass in a 6A play-in game.
“We’re just a new team. We’re going to need to practice lots and get in the flow of how everyone works and play a little bit better together and we’ll be set,” said West senior Saylor Siegner, a first team all-Greater Valley Conference selection last season.
“Once we get set up and calmed down and realize that we know how to play basketball then we’re set, we’re good to go.”
Siegner, who had four points, and fellow senior Smith, a second team all-league pick, are surrounded by a handful of players who complement them. West has nine players on varsity for the first time.
“They haven’t played together long enough to figure it out and they’re still young,” Stinson said.
Siegner and Smith are the team’s leaders, and Siegner says that aspect has been “pretty easy” because everyone wants to be a leader and knows that each player needs to step up to help the team be successful.
The Bulldogs forced 26 turnovers, including 14 in the first half, with its own trapping. Stinson said he has a good defensive team but that it hasn’t yet shown what it can do.
Stinson says his team’s strengths are unity and depth.
“We’re 13 strong. We have 13 girls that can all bring their piece to the table,” he said.
The Bulldogs get one more warm-up for Greater Valley play — at Willamette in Eugene on Tuesday — before hosting McNary next Friday in the first game of a doubleheader with the schools’ boys teams.
Stinson said Willamette will be an important game after his team was unable to match the intensity of the first two opponents.