The Indians put on a strong defensive showing as they defeated Jacksonville Christian 45-26 in the opening round Saturday.
“I preach defense,” Ohatchee head coach Bryant Ginn said. “I always have. It’s the way I was taught. I teach them to play defense, and we’ll score off of that.”
The Indians (7-6) held the Thunder (9-8) to just eight first-half points.
“They played really, really good defense,” JCA head coach Brook Lee said. “It pretty much shut us down. We had no offense today.”
Ohatchee’s junior guard Morgan Lee carried the Indians on offense in the first half. All 15 of her points came before intermission, as the team had 19 points.
“Well, it was County,” Lee said. “I thought I needed to step it up, try my best and give it my all.”
Added Ginn: “She was huge, I thought Morgan shot the ball well. She hit about two or three 3-pointers right there in the first half and got us going right out the gate.”
Lee did not play much in the second half, as Ohatchee's lead gave the team the luxury of allowing more reserves to play. Junior forward Joria Steger stepped in during her absence and scored nine of her 10 points in the second half. But when she did not have the ball in her hands, she was fighting for it as she pulled down eight rebounds.
“She is a rebounding machine,” Ginn said. “I like the way she plays. She plays good, hard defense and she’ll go get you some buckets from being aggressive.”
Ohatchee outscored JCA 17-5 in the third quarter to take a 36-14 lead into the fourth. The Thunder managed to out score the Indians 13-9 in the finla period, but it was too little, too late as Ohatchee sealed its seventh win of the season.
“We’ve had a couple of heartbreaking losses in the past few games,” Ginn said, “but I thought we played real well today and got after it. It’s good to get back above .500.”
Ohatchee advanced to play No. 1-seeded Anniston on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
According to Lee, the Indians have “been looking forward to Anniston.” Steger agreed.
“I’m really pumped up for Anniston,” Steger said. “That’s the No. 1 seed and I want to win so bad.”