While it may be cliché, McCluer South-Berkeley junior Marneisha Pordos said she and her team know all too well that defense wins championships.
In giving up an average of 37 points per game, the Bulldogs earned a trio of wins — over Principia and host John Burroughs in the first two rounds and by a 43-36 margin over Clayton for the John Burroughs Tournament title.
“We're taking things one game at a time and we're just doing what our coach asks us to do,” Pordos said. “Coach asks us to take away their main players and the people that are going to hurt us when we're on defense in the end. Against Burroughs, it was a special feeling to put a stop to one of their better players.”
The 'stop' came as Burroughs freshman center Vanessa Polk, who is averaging 10.6 points per game, was held to just three in the defeat.
That number, along with allowing the Bombers just one first quarter point, had Bulldogs coach Greg Brown excited.
“It's funny because I wasn't happy with the seeding, at first, and I knew we'd have to play John Burroughs that second game,” Brown said. “I didn't know what to expect, I was just hoping for a good game against Burroughs. We came out, executed the game plan real well – they have a 6-footer (Polk) and we wanted to give her a lot of attention – and I think we executed it well. At the end of the first quarter, we were up 10-1. I still was sweating but, yeah, (it was great).”
Brown said his plan to have the team succeed is simple.
Basketball is a game of numbers and, for hm, the number is 40.
That's his target for the team's defense to keep the opposition under in terms of output each game.
“We've been playing some pretty good defense, that's probably our identity,” Brown said. “I've got some nice, long girls and we're real young. I only have one senior, so we've pretty much been living off defense. For us, 40 is my number. I feel like if we can keep the opponent at 40 or under, we've got a real good chance of winning.”
The other thing that gives the team a real chance of winning is the scoring spread from freshman Taylor Brown (15.9 points per game), senior Kyra Jones (10.9 PPG), sophomore Nateonia Russell (8.8 PPG) and Pordos (7.4 PPG).
With the 43 points between the foursome, it's easy to see why 40 points should be a daily target number for the defense. Still, Pordos said, that the team is continually working to get better on both sides of the court.
“We just want to keep getting better and working together,” Pordos said. “We want to be playing well because it (the postseason) is coming.”
Brown said he sees that happening.
The coach added he feels excited that defense will lead the way for the team in the coming days.
“This is the time of the year when you're figuring out how your team is going to look,” Brown said. “You get used to playing together, so you know what you do well and you know what you don't do well. I know we (play defense) well. That's what we'll rely on.”