In tonight’s 3A game, the Kent Denver Sun Devils played host to the Eaton Reds. In what was a tightly contested game, the Reds found a way to break through in the second half and claim their first road victory of the season, 57-43.
Heading into the game, both coaches shared their keys to success. For the Sun Devils, Coach Richard Judd, wanted to keep up the defensive pressure and push the tempo offensively feeding the ball through his athletic freshman, Amanda Licht. The talented freshman did not disappoint and will be a vital piece for this team moving forward as she has the ability to play on both ends and can tally points in bunches, dropping 13 – a team high and tied for game high. On the other side of the ball, Eaton’s coach, Todd Hernandez, knew that limiting his team’s turnovers and executing their new offensive scheme would help them overcome.
The first half ended in a 21-all tie. Kent Denver’s tight-man defense was disruptive and prevented Eaton from gaining any solid momentum. Eaton’s lead scorers, Sophomore Nakaiya Kuskie (13) and Senior Bailie Duncan (12) were held to a combined 6 points in the half, but leaned on gritty work by their teammates to keep it close. The Reds found success with screens and quick passes inside for high percentage shots, while Kent Denver drove the ball quickly and was able to find the open shooter.
Opening the second half, Eaton hit back-to-back threes with a new approach at attacking the Sun Devil’s defense. The new approach paid off. Swinging the ball around, Eaton was able to draw an open player and keep Kent Denver off balance. However, Kent Denver was able to battle back somewhat to keep things interesting going into the 4thonly down by five, 39-34.
Both teams got into some foul trouble to start the fourth, but neither team was able to capitalize. With five minutes to go, Kent Denver’s biggest threat inside, Maya Muwanga fouled out. Eaton took full advantage of the loss and found success inside quickly pushing their lead to ten. The Sun Devils made a small push to come back, but the loss of Muwanga was a decisive blow to their chances as Eaton exploited the paint and found continued success beyond the arc.
Eaton heads back north with their first road victory of the early season, while Kent Denver falls to 1-1. Look for Eaton down the stretch to rely on their athleticism and experience to lead them in close games. Kent Denver looks to be a promising young team who is quick and plays smothering defense – behind the play and growth of their freshman star, this team is settling a foundation for the future.