CHESTERTOWN - Years of off-season basketball competition paid off Jan. 19 as the North Warren Cougars girls basketball team utilized swift passing, good court perception, and aggressive defense to overcome their counterparts from Warrensburg, a school nearly twice the enrollment.
With a strong start, the Warrensburg squad fought successfully to maintain the lead for much of the first quarter. This push featured the solid play of Ashlie Morehouse, who accounted for all the Burgher field goals in the first half.
An aggressive Cougar defense, however - including some stretches of full-court press in the following stanza -eroded the Burghers' confidence and shut down their offense. Warrensburg recorded only one point in the second quarter when the Cougars added adrenaline to their attack.
Cougars Kiera Warner and Chantal Millington combined for a productive offensive charge - while their entire team repeatedly swatted, stole and swiped the ball from the Burghers to amplify the scoring advantage.
"North Warren's defensive intensity gave us some real problems," Burgher Coach Scott Smith said, noting that his team played harder and smarter in the second half, but so did the Cougars. "Their aggressive play on our guards, particularly, gave us trouble."
Cougar Coach P.J. Hogan credited his team's AAU play for their intensity. Seven of his players are active in the competitive off-season program.
"We put a lot of pressure on the ball," he said. "We attacked the basket tonight and scored in transition."
Some highlights include some clever last-second passes between Kiera Warner and Chantal Millington as they charged toward the basket in traffic.
Highlights for Warrensburg included their own defensive scrappiness, and the Burghers' refusal to give up despite a vast scoring deficit. Down 39-19, and with most all the starters on both teams on the bench, younger Burgher players stepped into the spotlight.