CHAMPION — Boxing out, tough defense and buckets on the fastbreak. Check all three of those boxes, and you’ll probably have a successful evening of basketball.
For the Champion Golden Flashes, the key fundamentals helped build an early lead, but hot shooting from beyond the arc pushed the advantage in the 59-18 rout over local rival Warren John F. Kennedy. Champion is now 3-0 on the young season.
With senior leadership coming from Ava Howell, Mady Jones and Lorinda Dodrill, the Golden Flashes find themselves with a squad that lacks any juniors but is abundant with sophomores and freshmen.
Posting a season-high 21 points, sophomore Bella Meyer led the charge for the Golden Flashes, who led 35-8 at halftime.
“We really focused on boxing out during practice, and we really tried to do that,” Meyer explained. “We don’t have that much height, and we’re kind of down girls this year, so we just really want to make sure that everyone is out and the shooters are blocked.
“It’s our energy. If we get going, we never stop. We’ve been looking forward to this ever since summer league, it’s a big game, and it’s just a good start before our league games.”
Champion ripped off a 16-0 run to conclude the first quarter, holding the Eagles (4-2) to a Julia Toth layup during the second frame.
Stout defense turns into offense, but having the ability to attack inside and shoot outside can make any team dangerous. Coach Michael Cole commented that this season’s Golden Flashes roster is the best shooting team he’s ever coached in his 20 years.
Even with a roster that’s heavy on underclassmen, the Golden Flash expectation is still there.
“I thought all three (seniors) played really good, but it’s all the little details in the practice,” Cole said. “Where they’re helping the girls, with the freshman and even the sophomores, because the sophomores had half their season stolen last year, so they’re not really sophomores.
“But, my seniors do a fantastic job of moving them around, and letting them know where to go, and they keep them accountable.”
Sharpshooting came by way of nine threes, four of which came from freshman Gabby Gradishar, who recorded all 12 of her points on treys.
The 59 points ranking as a season-high through three games for Champion.
“Running our plays through, and even if it’s not working, we find a good way to get open and pass the ball around quickly,” Gradishar said. “Just getting rebounds really helps us push and keep our momentum going.
“As a shooter, the first shot is like, ‘Okay, this is feeling good, keep shooting,’ and even if it’s not, passing the ball around and getting going really helps.”
Howell added seven, and Dodrill scored six.
Warren John F. Kennedy was paced by freshman Izzy Mauro’s eight points. The Eagles also are young, with seven freshmen, a single sophomore, two juniors, and a pair of seniors with Faith Hollobaugh and Kaycie Martinko.
“I think our girls worked hard all summer, I think they gel together, they did a lot of workouts on their own, which is impressive for a younger group, “ Eagles coach Sean Zekkour said. “We came into the season focused. We didn’t really get a lot of plays go our way, loose balls, 50/50 balls, so it’s been a good start outside of tonight.
“Moments like this you got to be reflective, you got to take a look at yourself and the team, and say, hey what didn’t work, what can we fix?”