Lady Flames basketball stuns the Valparaiso Valpos
- After trailing the Valpos in the first half, the Lady Flames turned their frustration into playing and won 61-40.
- Focusing on resilience and defense in the second half, the strengthened defense led to a stronger offense for the Lady Flames.
The young Lady Flames basketball team entered the locker room at halftime in frustration, as they trailed the Valparaiso Valpos 35-34 during Saturday’s matchup.
Liberty entered the game with a 2-4 record, hoping to build off their most recent 68-38 victory over Limestone College.
The team’s defense turned up the heat in the second half, containing the Valpos to five second half points while racking up 26 themselves, securing a 61-40 win.
“I’m very pleased that we’re making some application over some things that we’ve been working on, on the defensive end,” Lady Flames head coach Carey Green said. “Seeing the girls make application and get results from that application and just their efforts especially on the defensive end is very rewarding, and I’m so pleased.”
Six-foot-two-inch freshman Bridget Rettstatt was one of the key contributors to the defense. Rettstatt played 18 minutes and totaled seven rebounds and seven points. Despite her humble numbers, Rettstatt’s presence was felt primarily within the paint.
“Get defensive stops so we can generate our offense,” Rettstatt said. “If we can get energy on our defense then the offense will come.”
Rettstatt said her focus on defense largely came from a change of defensive roles.
“I just tried to focus on my post defense,” Rettstatt said. “I’m not actually a post, usually I play guard so post defense is a big change for me. So, I really tried to focus on that. I think I did well.”
Rettstatt’s standout play was complemented by Lady Flames freshman point guard Ashtyn Baker.
“It was definitely a fun game, back and forth a lot,” Baker said. “I think it was awesome to see how our defense changed from the first half to the second half. How we came together as a team and (played) a great game.”
“We just talked and we rotated well,” Baker said. “We just kept on getting stops and kept on getting steals and we just fed on that and it was kind of like a snowball.”
Baker touched on how the Lady Flames have made an effort to continue to improve on defense.
“We struggled at the beginning of the first few games on defense,” Baker said. “We really locked down and have definitely been working on that.”
Baker was the Lady Flames second leading scorer on the evening, finishing the night with 11 points. Baker has scored 49 points on the season.
The inexperienced Lady Flames team is continuing to build chemistry and learn the mechanics of coach Green’s system as the year progresses.
“We’re a young team and we’re just growing to know each other,” Green said. “Resilience and especially the focus on defense. Defense was the whole factor tonight. There were times we didn’t shoot the ball real well, there were times where we had a chance to get some cushion or take the lead and we took either a poor shot or maybe a turnover.”
Sophomore Kierra Johnson-Graham was another focal point for the Lady Flames comeback victory. Johnson-Graham led the Lady Flames in points scored with 13.
“I think we came out into the game at tip-off with a chip on our shoulder,” Johnson-Graham said. “Our defense generated our offense.”
The Lady Flames will look to build off their defensive victory as they travel to play at James Madison Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.