Vandegrift girls’ basketball head coach Jonathan Jones knows his team can be streaky offensively, so his message at halftime was to continue focusing on the defensive end and let the offense flow from that.
The Lady Vipers opened the second half on a 14-0 run and never looked back, pulling away to beat Cedar Park 48-35 Tuesday night in non-district play.
“We told them to keep doing what we’re doing defensively,” Jones said. “Offensively, we had to move the ball and do what we do — have pace, drive and kick. When we’re good offensively, we’re really good, but it’s going to be up and down.”
The loss is the fourth of the season for Cedar Park. The Lady Timberwolves finished the Burleson Centennial Tournament 2-2, beating Joshua and Midland Lee and losing to Waco Midway by three points.
First-year Cedar Park coach Donny Ott is stressing consistency.
“We played so good last weekend,” he said. “We play a team like (Vandegrift) where we think we can match up stylistically and we don’t perform. We’re so robotic and it’s hard to break that.”
Jen Moore led Vandegrift with 15 points and two rebounds, Bee Gonzales added 11 points and three rebounds with one assist, Autumn Howell scored seven points, and Ella Drablos chipped in with four points and four rebounds.
Sophomore forward Nicole Leff was the catalyst for Cedar Park with a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Kalee West scored five points while Pujita Shukla and Kilee West each scored four.
“We’ve got to understand that there are more people on the court than Nicole,” Ott said. “We tend to try and force it to her a lot.”
The scoring picked up towards the end of the first quarter and Vandegrift started the second quarter on a little 5-0 run to take the lead. Cedar Park closed out the half with a run of its own and Kilee West ended the half with a layup to cut the lead to two points.
But the Lady Vipers came out of the locker room hot on both ends of the floor. The Lady Timberwolves’ first bucket of the second half came more than five minutes into the period.
Vandegrift outscored Cedar Park 10-8 in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
“We’re a young team,” Ott said. “They had a lot of seniors last year. This is an inexperienced team that we’ve got to get more experience. That’s what (non-district games) are for so we’re ready for district play.
Both teams return to action this weekend at the Marble Falls Tournament. District play begins next Tuesday for Cedar Park with a trip to Hutto, while Vandegrift has an afternoon doubleheader with the boys’ team against Round Rock on Monday, the first day of LISD fall break.
There are big differences between the Vandegrift team from last season, which won a share of the district title fort eh first time in school history, and this year’s squad. This year, the Lady Vipers are feeding off a newfound physicality.
“We’re a little more athletic and they naturally justly like that,” Jones said. “We’ve been preaching defense, defense, defense and they’ve bought in.”