Sacred Heart’s defense stole the show in a 20-point victory over Manual Wednesday night. The Valkyries held the Crimsons to 19 percent shooting from the floor, and just five made buckets through the first three quarters of play.
“I thought our defense was awesome,” said Sacred Heart Head Coach Donna Moir. “When we come to play, it starts on the defensive end. We take a lot of pride in our defense.”
Both teams were sluggish early on. Manual senior Nila Blackford scored the first point of the game with 5:03 left in the first quarter while Sacred Heart got on the board about 30 seconds later. The Valkyries led 8-7 through one quarter.
Sacred Heart took control in the second quarter, outscoring the Crimsons 14-3 and closed the first half on a 12-0 run. Manual’s lone bucket came with 7:21 to play in the half.
“We just weren’t in it tonight mentally. I think that was our biggest problem,” said Manual Head Coach Jeff Sparks. “We started the game okay. They made a run and then we just didn’t answer the run. We had a lot of missed shots, and I think that got in our heads.
“A lack of ball movement offensively caused a lot of problems and them moving the ball better than us, making us move on defense created opportunities for them. They just outplayed us tonight.”
Junior Kristen Clemons finished with nine points and 14 rebounds. However, a pair of freshmen turned in strong performances as well. Josie Gilvin scored a team-high ten points while Olivia Kaufman just missed double figures with nine points. Kaufman was a perfect three-for-three from behind the arc and helped fuel a 16-0 run that put the game out of reach.
“They certainly played a lot of minutes,” said Moir. “Josie is just a really good defensive player. She’s long, she moves well and plays the passing lanes. They probably played more minutes than I played in two years. They’re getting time on the floor, and I think they’re getting a little more confident out there which really helps us.
Getting substantial contributions from underclassmen is huge for the Valkyries. Overall, it is a young team with just one senior. Moir joked the freshmen don’t really get to be freshmen.
“They weren’t freshmen the first game,” Moir said. “We don’t look at anybody as freshmen or sophomore. We look at us as a team and to continue to get better. I think you’re seeing a little bit of that.”
Blackford was the lone bright spot for Manual. She scored 15 of the Crimson’s season-low 25 points and led the team with eleven rebounds.
“We got to have some kids step up and score some points and be able to knock some shots down and be a threat,” said Sparks. “We’ve talked about that all year long, and it’s just not happening for us yet. But we have kids more than capable of stepping up and doing that for us. We just have to keep trying to find a way to get them going.”
Both squads are back in action Friday night. Sacred Heart (9-5) visits Waggener while Manual (8-7) hosts Shawnee.