Relentless defensive pressure and rare depth for a Class 2 school has put the Crane Lady Pirates back into the state tournament.
Crane overwhelmed an under-manned Marionville squad in the Class 2, District 11 title game Friday night at Spokane High School, winning 64-35.
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Nine players scored for Crane, which faces either Pierce City or Purdy in sectionals at Republic High School on Wednesday night, Feb. 27.
Crane controlled the game with its constant pressure on Marionville’s ballhandlers, which led to turnovers and easy baskets in transition.
"All of our players are well-conditioned; we can play a full game if we need to," said Crane junior Riley Israel, who scored a game-high 16. "It's great having those extra legs come in. That's how we beat people - we out-run them. We have those extra (players), whereas other teams only play six players sometimes."
After Jaycie Dishman’s trey put Marionville up 15-14 early in the second quarter, Crane scored 14 of the game’s next 18 points to lead 29-19 at halftime.
“I told my girls to keep relaxing,” said Crane coach Jeremy Mullins. “I thought we came out very tense that first half.”
“We’ve really been focusing on (defense) all year,” Mullins said. “The girls have bought into our system that we’ve been trying to sell them. With our speed and basketball IQ, it’s really been effective.”
Crane’s full-court defense dominated the third quarter as the Lady Pirates’ lead hit 20 points.
“That’s what they do,” said Marionville coach Ted Young. “They’re going to play 10 or 11 and they’re going to harass you. If you don’t take care of it and don’t rebound, you’re going to lose. We were kind of one bullet short tonight.”
Marionville went without a field goal for the first five minutes of the third period. By the time Dishman hit a 3-pointer, Crane (26-3 overall) led 40-23.
“We’re deep, and that’s such a blessing for a small school like us,” Mullins said. “Our depth is what makes us the team we are.”
Dishman scored 14 for Marionville. The Lady Comets (20-8 overall) were playing without all-state forward Josie Young, who had knee surgery earlier in the day Friday.
“We’ve had a lot of distractions this year, and for us to win 20 games is very, very good,” said Ted Young.
Crane 64, Marionville 35
Marionville 9 10 9 7 --- 35
Crane 12 17 19 16 --- 64
Marionville – Jayce Dishman 14, Aubree Brown 7, Brooke Nelson 6, Whitney Wright 4, Amy Hicks 3, Bailie Stine 1
Crane – Riley Israel 16, Emma Lander 14, Lexie Vaught 8, Loni Johnson 6, Maggie McMenamy 6, Kylee Moore 6, Allie Hagler 3, Addie Reel 3, Justeen Mahan 2