by BRYAN EVERSON
Rochester coach Adam Sheldon found some common ground Friday afternoon with that old U2 lyric about being stuck in the moment you can’t get out of.
“I looked up and was thinking, ‘There’s seven minutes left in the second quarter,'” he said. “It feels like we’ve been battling two hours already.”
The Falcons had a long day on their own floor, falling in a cross-town rivalry game to Stoney Creek, 53-15.
The intensity of the Cougars’ defense was compounded by the fact that Rochester was missing several regulars, including the starting backcourt of Paola Barazza and Tori Hawkins.
“The key was having two experienced ball-handlers that have played against that kind of pressure [missing],” Sheldon said. “Typically, it would be Tori, Jenna [Norgrove] and Paola bringing [the ball] up, but today it was Jenna with Maddie [Perking] and Payton [Johnson], who at this point in their careers are role players. Payton is only a sophomore, and to get thrown against a team with seven seniors and that kind of pressure, that kind of system, I knew it was going to be tough.”
Stoney’s trap at mid-court gave the Falcons (0-5) fits repeatedly, and by halftime the Cougars (4-2) amassed a 34-6 advantage.
“One of the things we worked on was [with] girls that play our two-line [in the press], the other night they were so deep, teams were able to penetrate on us,” Stoney Creek coach Kellen James said. “Here, we were playing up earlier, so as soon as they crossed [half-court], we were ready to trap them and get them out of what they were doing.”
“It’s a marathon running the press, but when we really pressure teams right off the get-go, we can create steals and turnovers that lead to points on our end.”
Compared to a loss in their last outing to Kettering, James said the Cougars did a better job finishing inside against Rochester, and also reached the free-throw line 29 times altogether.
“Offensively I don’t think we played particularly, well [against Kettering],” James said. “This game we executed. We didn’t have nearly the amount of missed layups as we did the other night.”
Emily Solek was one of 10 Stoney Creek players who scored, and she led with a game-high 12 points, all but two of them coming before halftime.
“[Emily’s] at the point where she’s brought new life to us,” James said. “I wasn’t envisioning her as a point guard this year, but she just takes command of the floor, and the girls respond. She comes in, she’s poised, confident in what she’s doing, and she’s a leader.”
James also complimented the play of Madison Rochow, who contributed seven points as a reserve and was one of several who made sure the Cougars kept generating baskets when the starters received some rest late in the game.
All eight of Rochester’s players figured into the scoring, with seven scoring two points each.
Sheldon said he was pleased with the effort, saying his team bought in and stayed positive throughout despite the score.
“They didn’t give up and they played hard,” Sheldon said. “It may hurt right now, the pride and all else, but if we’re in a situation in the future when we’re at full health and get into foul trouble, they can step in and know what to expected. They knew what reads to make, but for lack of experience, girls were trying to make decisions after they caught the ball instead of knowing where to go with it when they caught it.”
The Falcons will look to get into the win column when they return to the floor on Jan. 5 in a league game against Oak Park.