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Defense, Gaskins lead Crestview to complete sweep of Brookfield

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan. Crestview’s Luvrain Gaskins goes up for a layup against two Brookfield defenders Monday night at Brookfield High School. Gaskins scored 15 points in the Rebels’ 38-31 win.

BROOKFIELD — In securing a pivotal conference win, Crestview relied on something that it hasn’t utilized much this season — it’s half-court man-to-man defense.

The Rebels’ defense kept a sharp-shooting Brookfield team well below its season averages Monday night, as Crestview earned a hard-fought 38-31 victory over the Warriors to complete the season sweep of the fellow MVAC-Grey Tier foe.

“Defensively, I kind of left it up to them what to do,” Crestview head coach Aaron Blatch said. “Earlier in the year, we weren’t playing a ton of man defense. Honestly, we weren’t very good at it. But they were adamant — that’s what they wanted to do. So I said, I want you to believe in what we’re doing. So, we stayed in it the whole night.”

Coming in, Brookfield was averaging 54.8 points per game, while shooting 45 percent from the floor.

On Monday, Crestview held the Warriors to 23.8 points below their scoring average and limited them to just 26.5 percent (13-for-49) shooting from the floor.

“We just couldn’t hit a shot,” Brookfield head coach Ken Forsythe said. “A couple of our shooters were open in the first half and in the second half. We just didn’t hit a shot. You have to hit shots in this game. We have to be able to shoot the ball better and we just didn’t shoot very well.”

Part of Crestview’s defensive plan was to put top defender Reagan Edwards on Brookfield’s leading scorer Sophia Hook. Despite averaging 20.0 points per game this season, Edwards limited Hook to 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting.

“She’s fantastic, just an elite-level defender,” Blatch said. “Then, we worked a lot on stepping up on ball screens. Lexi Blower, Luvrain Gaskins, Ava Bucey — they all did a great job helping out. Hook, I have so much respect for her. I’m glad we were finally able to at least hold her within reason because she’s gotten us pretty good a few times in the past.”

After trailing for most of the first half, the Rebels made a concerted effort to attack the post with center Luvrain Gaskins in the second half.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore presented a matchup problem for the Warriors with her size and constantly gave Brookfield problems down low. Gaskins finished with 15 points to lead all scorers, with 12 of them coming after halftime.

“It’s something we always want to do and it’s something that we need to do a better job of,” Blatch said. “She’s a star, just a phenomenal player, worker and talent. If it’s one-on-one down there, we like her against anyone, and if help comes, we know that she can make the right decision and it can open some things up for other people. We definitely wanted to get her some touches and she took advantage of that late.”

The two teams were tied heading into the fourth quarter, but the Rebels outscored the Warriors 10-3 in the final period to put the game on ice.

“I thought we were able to find a way to get a couple easy (buckets) late,” Blatch said. “Brookfield’s really good. I’m sure they missed some shots that on other nights maybe they’d have made, but I give our girls a ton of credit. When we got on the boards late, we were able to control that and close the game out.”

nmadhavan@tribtoday.com

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