By Rick Atkinson
For the Anna-Melissa Tribune
ANNA – With stifling zone defense and plenty of hustle, Anna’s Lady Coyotes opened District 11-4A play Jan. 11 with a come-from-behind 36-30 win over Sanger. Down by three at halftime, Anna put on a 14-5 burst in the third quarter as the Lady Indians struggled to sink a shot.
From there it was a struggle, but the Lady Coyotes posted the big plays down the stretch.
Forward Bre Traylor led Anna with 11 points, including a clutch baseline-turnaround jumper with 2:45 left to play for a 33-28 Lady Coyotes lead. Just before that, with Sanger down by one and charging hard, Anna guard Ckia Morrison calmly drained two free throws for a 31-28 edge.
The victory provided a good measuring stick for how far second-year Anna Head Coach Justin Baldia and the Lady Coyotes have come since last season. In these teams’ two meetings last year, the Lady Indians averaged comfortable 16-point victories.
This game was moved to Jan. 11 after severe storms Jan. 10 forced a postponement.
“The girls executed the game plan,” Baldia said. “That was one of the benefits of having no game on Tuesday. And, unfortunately rescheduling until today, we had a little more time to game plan, watch film. .. We’re not amazing yet. We’re not at a point where we can start worrying about what other people do. We have to worry about us and execute what we do well. They did that today.”
Sanger 5-8 junior Chloe Malone, last year’s District MVP, was held to six points while 6-1 sophomore Bella Ringenberg managed four. “[Malone] is a great player,” Baldia said. “That was our focus - then [Ringenberg], obviously. Limiting them to single digits each, that was the game plan.”
Along with its zone, Anna (14-8, 1-0) used the full-court press at various times throughout the contest, with good results. “Yeah, we press,” Baldia said. “We’re an athletic team and we’re going to use that to our advantage. Sometimes the shots don’t go in, but we can always hustle.”
As for Traylor’s late turnaround jumper, Baldia said, “She’s been holding out on me for a year-and-a-half now. I didn’t know she had that in her bag of tricks.”
Said Sanger Head Coach Derek Hilliard, “Everything was kind of out sorts [due to the postponement] but I thought both teams did a good job coming out and being focused. Credit to them and their zone. We couldn’t make a basket. We scored five points in two of the five quarters. It’s hard to win when you do that. I felt like our defense was good. Our goal is to hold teams to 36 points. You do that, you hope to win. We did that today, we just didn’t execute when we needed to.”
Hilliard added, “Much improvement by Anna. You can tell that [Baldia] is doing a good job with them.”
Anna got out fast, leading 9-5 after one quarter boosted by a three-pointer from guard Marianna Bert and two Traylor layups. In the second, the Lady Coyotes’ lead was 12-9 when Sanger (13-10, 0-1) clawed back to tie it one minute before the break. Seconds later, a left-side three sent the Lady Indians to the halftime locker room, up 15-12 - their first lead since 2-0.
Sanger pushed on to a 19-13 advantage in the early third quarter and looked to be surging - but the Lady Coyotes soon turned the tables. It was forward Qua Fisher who started Anna’s 13-0 run with a strong driving layup from the right side. Bert followed with a steal near midcourt which she took all the way to the hoop, cutting the deficit to 19-17. Anna guard Kaycee Redwine then swished a left-corner trey and the Lady Coyotes had the lead for good, 20-19.
Forward Lexi Stewart then nabbed a deep Sanger pass near the Lady Indians’ basket which led to a Traylor free throw. After a Sanger turnover, Redwine rebounded her own shot and laid it in for a 23-19 Anna edge with three minutes left in the third. After a missed Lady Indians three, Traylor grabbed the rebound and fired to Fisher, who fed Stewart for an easy layup. That move drove Sanger to a timeout, down 25-19. Stewart capped the run with a free throw for a 26-19 lead. The Lady Indians would answer with one of their own as the third stanza ended.
In the fourth, Traylor’s put-back layup kept Sanger down 29-23 with six minutes left to play. Three Lady Indians free throws and a layup soon had things tight, 29-28, but that’s when Morrison toed the free throw line for her two key buckets.
In the game’s final minute, two Fisher steals - leading to single free throws by Bert and Traylor - helped keep Sanger at bay.
Sanger 5 10 5 10 - 30
Anna 9 3 14 10 - 36
Anna scoring – Bre Traylor ,11; Kaycee Redwine, eight; Marianna Bert, six 6; Qua Fisher, five; Lexi Stewart, four; Ckia Morrison, two.
Anna scoring – Bre Traylor 11, Kaycee Redwine 8, Marianna Bert 6, Qua Fisher 5, Lexi Stewart 4, Ckia Morrison 2.