Brooke Pemberton received a pass into her position on the block. The Windsor Wizards’ sophomore center spun quickly, getting Erie’s Serena Gudino on her hip before going up for a shot. Miss. Pemberton bulled her way to a rebound. Miss. Gudino came away with the ball but could enjoy her victory for just a moment before Pemberton ripped the ball away and put in her first field goal of the game halfway through the third quarter.
It took a while for the Windsor girls basketball team’s leading scorer to get going but once Pemberton did, the Wizards followed en route to a 46-35 Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference win against Erie. It was the Wizards’ seventh straight win and it put the rest of Tri-Valley on alert, as Windsor (7-0 in Tri-Valley, 13-3 overall) dispatched their closest challenger, Erie (4-3, 8-6), in the standings with ruthless efficiency.
“I think we came out strong in the second half,” said Pemberton, who finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. “We had to work hard and stay strong because some of our shots weren’t falling. We just had to fight through it and play our game.”
The Wizards played their game througout, using crisp passing to create open shots in every quarter. It was a testament to the Wizards’ strong offensive rebounding performance (10) that they were able to overcome 33 percent shooting in the first half to stay within one at the break (19-18 Erie).
“Offensive rebounds are important because you can’t always control your shots falling but you can always work hard to get the rebound,” Pemberton said.
In the second half, Pemberton’s unrelenting effort to get her first field goal was about the worst shooting performance, as the Wizards shot 42 percent.
“We hit a few shots,” said Windsor coach Gary Perko, explaining what the difference was during the run. “In the first half, I don’t think we could throw it in the ocean.”
Even the third quarter wasn’t all roses from a shooting percentage standpoint but Pemberton and the Wizards were able to clean the boards for easy putback opportunities.
“It was something we totally expected,” Erie coach Noel Potter said. “It was something we were trying to shut down. We were more worried about preventing (Pemberton) from offensive boards than anything.”
Pemberton’s two-offensive rebound, one-steal scrum in the paint at the 6:15 mark in the third quarter kicked off an 18-3 Windsor run that wouldn’t end until about 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter with the Wizards up 37-25.
Asked what the difference was for Windsor, which went into the half down one, Perko had a simple answer.
“Our defense,” Perko said. “We were switching defenses mostly every time down the floor. So I think our defense really helped us.”
He also nodded to an improved Pemberton, who spearheaded the run and finished with seven third-quarter points.
“I think the second half she played a much better game than the first half,” Perko said. “I think she was a little gun shy in the first half, getting two fouls quick. That took her out of her game a little bit but she came to play in the second half.”
Without Pemberton in the lineup for about eight minutes between the second and third quarters, Erie’s Gudino was primed to get things going. She had eight points in the second quarter after sitting out the entire first quarter.
“She’s a really good player,” Pemberton said. “I know her from (travelling basketball), I played against her. We just had to crash the boards and try to play our best to try and control her.”
The Wizards certainly did that in the third quarter, for Gudino didn’t even attempt a shot.
“I think it’s just a mental thing with me,” Gudino said. “It happened at Mead. There really is no excuse for how I was in the third quarter.”
Perko credited his team’s defense with preventing open looks and offensive rebounds for Gudino, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
“We put different people on her,” Perko said. “I thought Maggie Griggs did a good job controlling her. Plus we were switching defenses. We told whoever had (Gudino) to get up and get after her.”
That was especially necessary in the first half, when Windsor wasn’t hitting shots, Perko said. That’s nothing new, either.
“Our defense all year long has helped us,” Perko said.
RightAlign.39RightAlign.52RightAlign.65RightAlign.81RightAlign.92RightAlign.105EHS 6 13 6 10 — 35
WHS 10 8 13 15 — 46
WHS — Amanda Young 0 1-2 1, Maggie Griggs 2 1-2 5, Alysa Manicone 3 3-4 10, Korbyn Ukasik 2 2-2 6, Brooke Pemberton 4 4-5 12, Sophie Griggs 2 2-2 6, Mackenzie Ruff 1 2-4 4, Aimee Jo Harris 0 0-0 0, Ashlee Lemos 1 0-0 2, Taylor Hilim 0 0-0 0. Totals — 15 15-21 46.
3-point field goals — WHS 1 (Manicone).
Total fouls — WHS 9.