The Tigers unleashed a solid scoring attack and strong defense in a 65-49 win.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
SHARON -- Playing aggressive basketball on both ends of the floor, Sharon High built a 34-16 halftime lead before cruising to a 65-49 win over Warren JFK Thursday in a girls non-league basketball game.
"One of our strengths right now is that we are playing good team basketball," said Sharon coach Mary Jo Staunch. "Hopefully that will carry us into the tough games we are going to be facing the next two weeks."
The Tigers (13-1) had four players in double figures, led by Nicole Valentino with 17 points. Erin Leyde and Julie Bell each scored 14, while Morgan Bradley had 10.
"We were really flowing there [in the first half], and by playing tough defense, that allowed us to set the tone of the game early," Staunch said.
Lack of execution: The Eagles were prepared for Sharon's defense, but simply didn't execute, JFK coach Denise Smith said.
"We practiced against their defense, but tonight, we never got it rolling," said Smith. "When we got onto the court, there was some frozen feet out there. We didn't move as quickly and weren't able to make the cuts we wanted to.
"By the second half, we were much better. But by that time, it was already too late."
Sarah McNeil scored a game-high 22 points for JFK (9-4), but spent a lot of time on the bench with three fouls in the first half. She picked up her fourth early in the second half.
"The fouls hurt her and that was part of our frustration," Smith said. "She tried to do some things to help the team get back, but the fouls really hurt."
Krystal Naples added 11 points for the Eagles.
"Once we got down, there wasn't a defense that we wanted to throw at them that could keep us in the game," Smith said. "We tried to switch things up, but it was tough because they had weapons both inside and outside."
1-2 punch: Valentino and Leyde helped the Tigers start quickly, combining for nine of Sharon's first 14 points and 10 of 20 in the second quarter.
"These teams know Julie Bell and they are going to double down on her," said Staunch. "That is why it is important for the other kids to step up and take over."
Sharon will need contributions from the starters and its bench as it heads into league play, Staunch said.
"We are doing a lot of positive things heading into the tough stretch and that is important if we are to be successful."