WESTFIELD TWP. — The long and short of it was 6-foot Mckenna Jordan took care of the scoring and rebounding and 5-3, 110-pound Bailey Freeland spearheaded an incredible defensive performance by the Cloverleaf girls basketball team.
It added up to an impressive but sometimes-hard-to-watch 45-25 Portage Trail Conference Metro Division victory over Field on Wednesday night.
Jordan had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Cloverleaf (7-5, 5-1), which alternated between a diamond-and-one and 2-2-1 zone that forced the Falcons (10-3, 3-3) into 10-for-44 shooting, 31 turnovers and quarter scoring totals of seven, seven, seven and four.
“We did exactly what we came out to do and just wore them down,” Colts coach John Carmigiano said. “They were trying so hard to get the ball to (Maria) Sziva that they made it easy for us to defend. We knew if we could get her tired everything would start to go our way.”
The 5-8 Sziva came in averaging 18.7 points, including 23.2 over her last six games, but was held to 15 on 6-for-13 shooting, plus five boards and three assists.
Hounded by Freeland and then Cam Tripp whenever the Colts went to the diamond-and-one, the junior attempted just four shots in the second half.
“It was very specific what we wanted to do,” Freeland said. “I go out there and cover one girl and make sure she doesn’t score. If I can take that away, it leaves them with nothing to do and we can convert our defense into offense.
“In order to frustrate the other team, you have to annoy their top offensive player. That makes it possible for us to score more.”
With Sziva often unable to even get her hands on the ball, the Falcons had nowhere else to turn. Just three other players scored — they combined for 10 points — as Field players not named Sziva went 4-for-31 from the floor.
The key, though, was never letting Sziva get going. Freeland, who was like a gnat that continually hovered around a plate of picnic food, did that admirably.
“All I can say is I’m used to it,” Jordan said of her teammate’s effort. “It happens in practice every day. As little as she is, she’s a big part of our team.
“All they were trying to do was dish it to (Sziva) every single play. By the end, she was just exhausted.”
Cloverleaf, which committed nine of its 21 turnovers in the first quarter yet never trailed all night after going up 4-3, wasn’t beautiful to watch offensively, but Jordan was always there to keep her team afloat.
The senior scored all six of the Colts’ points in a brutal third period that Cloverleaf still lost just 7-6, then added a hoop to start the fourth. Until Freeland got her only bucket of the game with 5:11 to play, the rest of the Colts had gone 0-for-14 from the field and 0-for-4 at the line in the second half.
The great news for Cloverleaf? Jordan’s eight points were enough to keep the Colts ahead 31-21.
“A big part of it was I got a few minutes rest,” she said. “I was able to store that (energy) up and come out stronger.”
Better still for the Colts? Starting with Freeland’s bucket, Jordan’s teammates combined to go 6-for-6 from the field in the fourth period.
Maddie Boltz finished with eight points, three rebounds and four assists for Cloverleaf, while Sarasa Sivapatham was solid off the bench while putting up six points, three boards and two assists.
“(Jordan) hadn’t really been scoring late in recent games, so we made it an emphasis to get her the ball early in the second half,” Carmigiano said. “That seemed to jump start a great second half for her.”
- There were 19 turnovers in a first period that ended with Cloverleaf up 11-7. The Falcons committed 10 of them.
- The teams combined to start the second period 0-for-15 from the field, but the Colts led 14-8 when Tripp finally hit a 3-pointer with 4:20 left in the half.
- Field center Kaitlyn Feller, who went scoreless on 0-for-1 shooting, had 15 rebounds with 1:35 left in the third period. The 5-9 sophomore then got in foul trouble and didn’t grab another board before exiting with five personals with 3:31 left in the game.
- Up 26-10 after three periods, the Cloverleaf junior varsity saw its lead cut to two with 1:38 remaining before holding on for a 31-28 victory. Brenna Holliday led the Colts with 10 points.
Cloverleaf 45, Field 25
FIELD 7 7 7 4 — 25
CLOVERLEAF 11 12 6 16 — 45
Field — Cortney Currey 1-0-2, Buzz Kline 2-1-5, Kaitlyn Feller 0-0-0, Maria Sziva 6-2-15, Mouse Ruppel 1-0-3, Cassie Spaite 0-0-0, Haley Hopkins 0-0-0, McKayla Pizzate 0-0-0, Lauryn Bogle 0-0-0, Olivia DeVries 0-0-0. TOTALS: 10-3-25.
Cloverleaf — Maddie Boltz 4-0-8, Jenna Oliver 2-1-5, Mckenna Jordan 8-2-18, Bailey Freeland 1-0-2, Cam Tripp 1-1-4, Tori Smith 1-0-2, Sarasa Sivapatham 3-0-6, Megan Scheck 0-0-0, Brenna Holliday 0-0-0, McKenna Fast 0-0-0, Faith Skrant 0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-4-45.
3-point goals — Ruppel, Sziva, Tripp. Rebounds — Field 36 (Feller 15), Cloverleaf 29 (Jordan 13). Assists — Field 8 (Sziva 3), Cloverleaf 12 (Boltz 4). Records — Field (10-3, 3-3), Cloverleaf (7-5, 5-1). Junior varsity — Cloverleaf 31, Field 28.