LIBERTY, Mo.— Park Hill South coach Josh Dorr dialed up the pressure in the fourth quarter of his team’s Suburban Conference Red Division matchup at Liberty North High School on Monday, Feb. 5.
The move to the high-intensity defense propelled the Panthers from a tie game to a double-digit 47-37 win to stay in contention for a conference championship.
“That’s something we like to break out,” Dorr said of the press. “A lot of times it’s whether we have the ability to do it or if we’re in foul trouble. Tonight we had the ability with the low number of fouls we had to be able to put the pressure on without worrying about picking up a couple of extra fouls. That was a turning point in the game obviously.”
The Panthers had just three second-half team fouls at that point to allow for the added risk.
Park Hill South trailed late in the second quarter but finished the half on a 7-0 run, capped by a pair of Alecia Westbrook 3-point-play chances. The junior standout converted the first but missed the free throw on the second, but she helped the Panthers take a 26-20 lead at the break.
The Panthers and Eagles were tied after the first quarter and it remained a back-and-forth affair until the late second quarter run. Park Hill South hit three 3s in the second two by Emma Beuerlein and one from Westbrook, who finished with a game-high 14 points — eight in the second quarter.
After the trip to the locker rooms, the Panthers struggled to get the offense going. Park Hill South didn’t score a point for more than five minutes out of the break, but the defense on the other end allowed the team to keep its small margin.
“We turned it over more than we normally do,” Dorr said. “We’re averaging 17 or 18 turnovers a game. Tonight we had that many at the end of the third quarter. It’s just a matter of not taking care of the ball and I think we improved that in the fourth quarter as well.”
In the fourth quarter the Eagles eventually tied the game at 30 before Dorr threw pressure at Liberty North. The full-court trap 2-2-1 did wonders, leading to easy baskets and fouls on layup attempts for the visitors.
“That was one of the better defensive efforts we’ve given,” Dorr said. “To hold them under 40, that’s pretty good defense. Any time you can hold a team under 40, it’s great defense. I think it was just the extra turnovers that caused us to not be in sync.”
De’Jaria Guillory (five fourth-quarter points) and DeQuaria Guillory (seven) were the biggest benefactors of the pressure on the way to double-figure scoring with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Beuerlein finished with the six points she scored in the second quarter and Dymeria Guillory and Kate Eischens each added two points to round out the scoring.
Park Hill South now gets set to visit Independence and face Truman, set for Friday, Feb. 9. The Patriots took the first matchup 65-31.
“We’re focused on Truman,” Dorr said. “They won the conference last year, they’re in first place in the conference right now, they don’t have any conference losses and we have one. It’s a big game for us.”