Kendra Grothmann is quickly establishing the character of teams she coaches. Strong defensive stands that pack a ton of aggression into 45 seconds of quick feet and high hands is a defining characteristic of the Lady Comets this year. It's enabling them to stand tall against some of the best competition in girl's basketball, and it kept them close to Underwood in their 55-39 loss Friday night.
The Lady Comets came out of the gate with a number of tough defensive stands. High hands enabled them to force 7 steals for the night from 5 different girls. The deflected passes opened lanes for the Comets who pushed the ball up the court and found Underwood sitting in on their defensive stance. Tough work around the perimeter opened lanes for posts Emma Royce and Abigail Christenson. The work inside saw the Comet pull-up for 41 shots inside the paint.
The Comets' work in the box translated to the defensive end, where they pulled down 21 rebounds. Royce was strong for the Comets, coming back from knee surgery after a high school career that is tattered with injuries. Royce wears the injuries well, knee braces and ankle wraps dart across her legs as she quickly closes-out on defenders and boxes out in the paint. Her work near the rim earned her a team high 12 points.
Royce found her stride in the paint due to more consistent guard play by fellow Senior Megan Aasness. Aasness continues to be a lynch pin for the Comets on defense, with an ability to turn defenders and redirect passes. On the offensive side she continues to lead the Comets with a strength in the backcourt that isn't afraid to break a press or command a side of the court with her dribble or strong passing. Grothmann appreciates Aasness' attitude on the court, where she functions in a high output position, putting in 51 minutes on the night.
The Comets kept the game close through the first half in their first showdown with Underwood, scoring 21 points to the Rockets' 27. Underwood pulled away, thanks to a deeper bench. Hillcrest played 7 girls for the night, working to keep pace with Underwood's starters. The difference in the game was Kenzie Aasness and Breanna Tinjum, who scored their combined 16 points in the final eighteen minutes of the game, deciding Hillcrest's 55-39 fate.
The Lady Comets face Brandon-Evansville Tuesday at Hillcrest at 7:15pm.