Sometimes zone defenses can be too passive as teams are cautious about leaving open spaces in the lane.
Olivia Smith allows Bishop Gorman’s girls basketball team to be aggressive in its zone.
The 6-foot-1-inch Smith blocked six shots Tuesday to help the third-ranked Gaels to a 45-34 road win over No. 2 Desert Oasis.
“Defensively she’s phenomenal because of her length,” Gorman coach Kevin Nixon said. “She blocks jump shots, she blocks layups. Her defense is just incredible. She can really jump. She’s almost dunking the ball.”
Gorman’s guards were able to pressure the Diamondbacks in the Gaels’ 2-3 zone, especially in the second half. That prevented Desert Oasis from comfortably running its offense, and the Diamondbacks were just 3-for-16 from the field in the second half.
“We pushed up a little more on our zone, at the top of our zone,” Nixon said. “We actually brought our guards up a little bit more so we got a little more aggressive at the top of our zone.”
Despite that extended pressure, the Gaels still were able to control things around the basket. They finished with nine blocked shots and outrebounded the Diamondbacks 45-31.
Smith led the way with 11 rebounds.
“Olivia played a great game,” Nixon said. “We got all the rebounds. We eliminated them from getting second and third shots, which was the key. They got one shot and that was it.”
The game was tied at halftime, but the Gaels took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Bentleigh Hoskins that made it 27-24 with 6:28 to go in the third quarter. Hoskins finished with a game-high 21 points.
After Desert Oasis pulled within 29-27, Gorman used a 14-0 run to put the game away. The Gaels (12-2) improved to 5-0 in the Southwest League and lead the Diamondbacks by 1½ games.
“That puts us in the right spot right now,” Nixon said. “Although it’s midway through the league, this is basically for the league championship. We came out and just locked them up in the second half.”
Elijah Pricebrooks scored 13 to pace Desert Oasis (8-4).