Sunday, July 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

Trademark defense leads Lady Crusaders over Fife

// Zeitler dominates inside for Tacoma Baptist

The success of the Tacoma Baptist girls basketball team this season will depend on playing good defense and getting the ball inside on offense. That formula worked to perfection on Dec. 29, as junior forward Sarah Zeitler scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the first half, and the Lady Crusaders were stifling on defense in a 39-27 win at Fife.

Holding a slim 11-8 lead midway through the second quarter, Zeitler ripped off eight points in two minutes to help give the Crusaders a 21-10 lead at the half.

“I was getting good passes,” said Zeitler, who added nine rebounds. “It’s all (for the) team… We play for the glory of God.”

The Trojans closed to within 25-18 thanks to a couple baskets by Karli Knudson midway through the third quarter, but started getting in foul trouble late in the period. Forward Breanna Richardson – who led Fife with 11 points and 11 rebounds – picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter, and Katie Cameron converted both free throws to give the Crusaders a 29-20 lead heading into the fourth.

With the defensive focus on Zeitler for much of the half, speedy senior guard Becca McDonald stepped up to help direct the offense with a supporting cast of younger players.

“We knew they were going to come out hard because they were losing,” said McDonald, who had four points and four rebounds. “We had to push it and try to get it into Sarah and get her good passes. We just worked together.”

The Crusaders extended the lead to 35-22 after baskets by Amy Kliewer, Ashley Brooks and Jane Cooksley on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter. Jennifer Brooks finished with 11 rebounds while Cameron added nine rebounds for the Lady Crusaders.

And while the young Crusaders – there are three freshmen who play significant minutes – are still figuring out the offense, it is clear they are beginning to embrace the school’s trademark defensive mindset.

“We’ve grown so much as a team in the past month on defense,” Zeitler said. “We had a rough time in the beginning. Everything is just starting to click with our defense.”

“That’s our focal point is defense,” added head coach Josh Narayan. “You play great defense, you’re going to get a victory or you’re going to be in the game.”

The Lady Crusaders were set to take on the Mornington Breakers, a traveling team from Australia, on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. in their final non-conference game.