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Putnam County’s Daniela Pavlovich (center) drives to the basket while being guarded by Hall’s Bekka Dagraedt (No. 15) in Thursday’s Tri-County Conference game in Spring Valley. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
The defensive unit for the Putnam County girls basketball team proved vital once again as it had 20 steals in a 39-20 Tri-County Conference victory over Hall Thursday in Spring Valley.
Putnam County (16-2) not only took the ball away but forced the Lady Red Devils to commit turnovers on their own as Hall lost the turnover battle 34-12.
“We recently put in different defensive techniques that we were going to try to get more steals,” junior guard Daniela Pavlovich said. “We put them in two practices ago and this was like a practice — a real practice — to see what it would do so we can get ready for regional and give teams different looks of what we got.
“We’re hard to read now.”
Pavlovich led the team defensively with six steals and offensively with a game-high 15 points. Eight of the 10 Lady Panthers had at least one steal.
Junior center Venessa Voss manned the middle and challenged every pass in the middle of the lane as she contributed five steals.
“Defense has been our go-to all year. We have held teams down and kept the score where we needed to for the most part,” PC coach James Barnett said. “Where we are at is largely due to what our defense has been doing. We have to continue doing that. We’ve been working on some things and I think they’ve responded well and learned a lot tonight.
“It’s going to be a good video tape night. We’ll see a lot and see where we need to make even more adjustments.”
Hall (4-12) was held to no points in the first quarter and three in the second quarter. The Lady Red Devils got on the scoreboard when senior guard Jacquie Wallaert hit a 3-pointer three minutes into the quarter.
The basket made it 11-3, but PC added six points more before halftime to enter the locker room with a 17-3 lead.
“It’s been our story all year,” Hall coach Mike Struna said. “I think we played decent defense to hold them to 17 (points) in the first half. I thought we worked hard, we just continue to struggle against the man-to-man defense, getting the ball where we want to get it and getting some shots.”
Wallaert and junior guard Kaylee Golden led the Red Devils with seven points apiece.
The Red Devils scored 11 points in the fourth quarter — more than their total in the first three quarters combined — but were met by the Lady Panthers’ highest-scoring quarter of 13.
Barnett said PC’s defense was the star of the show, but when the offense has the ball the pass is the secondhand star instead of the dribble.
“The ball moves quicker than anybody can run, so there is no sense of keeping it in your hand too long,” Barnett said. “Let’s get it out, get it up the floor and try to hit some people (with a pass) ... use the ball to get up the floor, not so much our feet.”
Against Hall, Barnett’s offense was struggling to make every pass but completed enough to find open shooters like as Pavlovich and junior guard Carly Gonet, both of whom knocked down two long balls. Gonet finished with 10 points.
With the win, the Lady Panthers improved to 5-0 in the TCC.
“We really want that regional title,” Pavlovich said. “We’re working hard for it and our confidence is up since we’re undefeated in the conference.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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