SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The game was really 32 minutes in length, but it felt like so much longer for East Longmeadow.
Friday against Christ the King (NY) at the Hoophall Classic, nothing seemed to be falling for the Spartans. After going 4-for-28 from the floor in the first half, they ended the night 13-of-56. When the clock read 0:00 at the end of the fourth, Christ the King was victorious 64-33.
Things were so difficult for East Longmeadow (6-2), it was held off the scoreboard entirely in the first quarter. It did not score its first basket until a minute and a half into the second.
Surprisingly, that was not the first time Christ the King (3-6) blanked a team in a quarter. It was not even the first time this month.
“We actually did that last week against our league rival St. Francis Prep,” said coach Bob Mackey.
At the end of the first quarter, the Spartans were down only 14-0, so it was still very much a game.
Christ the King also started slowly in the first quarter. For much of the first quarter, it failed to score in the double-digits. It was not until the second quarter that it was able to put some distance between it and East Longmeadow.
“I think our nerves got to us a little bit,” said East Longmeadow coach Eric Maurer. “I think this will be something that will help us prepare later on down the line. With a tournament game in a venue like this, we can certainly build on something like this and say, ‘This is what it’s like.’ We had to play in front of a big crowd against a good team, and maybe some of those layups that will miss in the first quarter will start to fall.”
Where in the first quarter it was settling for outside shots and was even missing the basket from close range, it started attacking the basket in the second. East Longmeadow also had a more difficult time adjusting to the CTK defensive pressure.
“They switched their defense up (in the second),” said Maurer. “They weren’t getting any turnovers off of that. They went to their 1-2-1-1 press and we didn’t react well to it. They got some easy turnovers and some easy baskets off that and that kind of got them to the tempo they want to play at.”
“We knew we weren’t going to be able to run with a team like that. We tried to slow it down as best we could, but in order to do that, you have to have the ability to make some shots and we didn’t have anything that was falling today. I told the girls they did a great job getting it to where we wanted to get it, we just didn’t finish.”
Sierra Calhoun (14 points, 7 rebounds) one of the team’s talented sophomore guards, was particularly effective in the second. She was getting out in transition and working the ball inside, which would draw fouls and put her on the free throw line, where she was a perfect 8-of-8 in the quarter.
“I think in the second quarter our defense put us on top because we were pressing, getting some steals, stopping them a little bit,” she said. “There’s a 30-second shot clock, so making them get some rushed shots I think helped our offense with attacking the basket more and getting to the free throw line.”
Christ the King took a 34-12 lead into the half and extended its lead from there. It almost doubled its halftime total on its way to victory, while not allowing any East Longmeadow player to reach double-digits in scoring. Emily Stetkiewicz lead the way for the Lancers with 9 points and 4 rebounds.