Kewpies’ defense pays off

Sunday, February 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:37 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Kaela Rorvig ran all game, but in the fourth quarter the clock did the running for her.

Rorvig led a tenacious defensive effort in Hickman’s 69-39 win against Jefferson City in the Class 5 District 10 title game on Saturday night in Helias.

All the running Hickman did in its pressure defense paid off. With the Kewpies leading 57-24 at the end of the third quarter, officials started a running clock for the fourth.

Hickman (27-1) beat Jefferson City (16-11) 44-43 in their previous meeting Feb. 10. Brianna Culberson, a Jefferson City forward, kept the Jays close in that game with 20 points.

Culberson scored 20 again Saturday, but did not find a rhythm until Rorvig went to the bench in the fourth.

Hickman coach Tonya Mirts praised Rorvig’s defensive performance on Culberson.

“Our team is not complete without that young lady,” Mirts said. “She does such an incredible job defensively. She’s a tremendous athlete, and without her we might be looking at something totally different.”

Rorvig said the increased intensity her team played with in its second game against the Jays helped her guard Culberson closely.

“We were on a mission,” Rorvig said. “We just played a game Thursday, and last time we hadn’t played for a few days when we played (the Jays), so we came out more intense this time. I knew what I had to do, and the intensity of my teammates just helped me out.”

Mirts also saw the difference.

“I think we were much more in attack mode tonight than we were earlier,” she said.

Most of Culberson’s 20 points came while Rorvig was not guarding her, as she scored 16 of her 20 either from foul shots or while Rorvig was out. She earned six of her points from the free-throw line, and scored 10 more while Rorvig was resting on the bench.

“She had a few good looks at the end of the game, and she hit some free throws, but she really didn’t get much head-to-head on Kaela,” Mirts said.

Jefferson City lost its starting center, Alice Parker, when she broke a bone in her left wrist about two weeks ago. This helped Hickman focus all of its interior defense on Culberson.

Jays coach Doug Light said that he was not surprised that Hickman put its best defender on Culberson and that he was impressed with the Kewpies’ defensive effort as a whole.

“With the people that we’ve lost, obviously you’re going to try and beat somebody like that,” Light said. “Rorvig’s a really good defender, and Brianna was kind of in a bad spot where there was a lot thrown on her shoulders. “

Lauren Harris also had a strong performance for the Kewpies playing in the post. She led the team with 20 points and added three blocks. She was a force on the inside all night, especially early in the fourth quarter when she scored on three consecutive possessions.

“They couldn’t handle me from the block,” she said.

As successful as her offensive game was, Harris said that she was most proud of her defensive play.

“I definitely like defense more than offense,” she said. “On defense you can stop somebody, and that feels good to be able to stop somebody.”

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