Rockridge girls' basketball coach Shawn Strachan emphasizes the Rockets' offense will come from their defense.|
With Davenport North committing 41 turnovers in the opening game of the Dearrel Bates Mississippi River Shootout at Black Hawk College, it can be safe to say the defense saved the offense in a 42-23 Rockridge victory.
"We didn't shoot very well, but our defense turned up its intensity," said Strachan, whose Rockets shot just 24 percent (16 of 66), but benefited when many of those field goals came directly off of Wildcat turnovers.
"Our defense carried our offense, no doubt about that," added Strachan, who started out his birthday with Illinois' first victory in the bi-state bragging rights day.
The 9-10 Rockets were without two starters, Molly Wright and Beth Meier, both sidelined with illness. That made it even more fitting the Rockets were led in scoring by a pair of reserves, Destiny Grawe with 11 points and Miranda Potter with eight. Starter Mackenzie Robbins also had eight points.
"Playing on the bigger (collegiate) floor was a big factor for us defensively," noted Strachan.
That proved true in the third quarter. With a Rockridge 12-point lead trimmed to six, the Rockets stepped up their pressure and came up with eight straight points off of turnovers. That led to Rockridge's comfortable 34-19 lead heading into the final quarter.
Rockridge is now 3-1 in the Shootout, having benefited from playing a struggling North in back-to-back years. North, 0-11, hasn't won a game since late November 2011. The Wildcats warmed up with just six players, but added two players once North's sophomore team had finished its game in the lower-level gym.
To the Bates Shootout, the North girls are what Davenport West has been to the boys' Genesis Shootout at Augustana College – both original shootout teams without a win. North is now 0-9 at the Mississippi River Shootout.
The highlight for the Wildcats, coached by former BHC men's coach Ron O'Brien, was the posting of 10 rebounds by Marissa Bell. Otherwise, the plague of turnovers prevented North from getting many shots or points. North was just 6 of 25 on field goals, and its leading scorers had just five points.
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