Heading into Monday’s first-round battle with Class A No. 2 Calumet at the Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic, Byng coach Matt Fike was most concerned with his team’s ability to handle the Lady Chieftains’ pressure defense. As things turned out, getting the ball up the floor was the least of the Lady Pirates’ worries.
Byng (6-3) turned the ball over a manageable 16 times and actually outrebounded Calumet, 31-27, but the Lady Pirates hit just seven of their 35 shots on their way to a lackluster 52-27 loss.
“We didn’t have trouble against their pressure, and that was our primary concern coming into the game,” Fike said. “We just didn’t finish on the back end, and that’s what’s disappointing — to shoot it that poorly when we got open looks.
We ran some things and got shots, but nothing went in,” he added. “The thing we thought would hurt most, we were good against, and something we’ve been good at this year we simply weren’t good at.”
Things don’t figure to get much easier for Fike’s club today, with Byng taking on a Shawnee squad ranked No. 5 in Class 5A and coming its off its first loss of the season, 51-48, in overtime to defending Mid-America Anadarko in Monday’s tournament opener.
“Going forward, you just tell them to let it go,” Fike said of Monday’s loss. “We got beat because we shot the ball poorly. Defensively, we had some breakdowns, but not so many we couldn’t overcome them if we make some shots. We just have to come back and do the best we can tomorrow.”
While Fike was understandably surprised at the ease with which the Lady Chieftains (11-2) handled his team, Calumet coach Tyler Snowden said he was confident the things his senior-dominated club had been doing all season would work against the Lady Pirates.
“I knew they were pretty good, so I knew they could do some things that would cause us some problems if we let them, but I also knew we could cause them some problems,” Snowden said. “When you have to try to guard all five girls and then run back to defend on a layup, that’s tough do.
“That’s one reason we play pressure defense and run — we make it a track meet and try to wear people down over the course of four quarters,” he added. “I felt like we did a good job of that.”
Calumet — which placed three players in double figures while Byng had just one (Stormy Sayre, who had seven) with more than four points — started the game on an 8-0 run capped by Emily Eaton’s layup with 1:02 left in the opening quarter.
Byng finally got on the scoreboard when Sayre rifled a pass through traffic to center Presli Manuel for a layup and Byng’s first points of the night 50 seconds later, but Mariah Miles’ baseline jumper beat the buzzer and sent Calumet to the second period with a 10-2 lead.
Eaton’s 3-pointer and a three-point play by Micha Snyder in the first 1:38 of the second quarter extended the lead to 16-3, and by the time sophomore Raetchel Gray went coast-to-coast with a rebound for a layup and Byng’s first basket of the period, the Lady Chieftains had built a 22-7 lead.
Calumet led 26-11 at halftime and by as many as 27 (38-11) midway through the third quarter, and although the Lady Pirates put together a 9-0 run later in the period, they had just one basket — a fast-break layup by Mahgen Boissenin after a steal by Gray at the other end — over the final 8:48.
“I wanted to come out and have a game like this and show we could do it,” Snowden said. “We hadn’t beaten any big schools, but I thought we could do this. Our defense really set the tone.”
Calumet finished 21-of-46 from the field, with Miles (who grabbed a team-high seven rebounds) and Katelyn Richardson scoring 12 points apiece and Eaton adding 10 in the win.
Sayre had two of Byng’s seven field goals and pulled down seven rebounds to go with her seven points. The rest of the Lady Pirates were a combined 5-for-30, however, and Byng finished 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.