Crofton girls fire on all cylinders in win over O’Neill
CROFTON — Lacey Sprakel scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter to lead Class C, No. 3 Crofton to a convincing 65-31 victory over O’Neill on Thursday.
The Warriors shot 51 percent from the field and limited the Eagles to just seven field goals for the entire game.
“I thought we played well tonight,” Crofton coach Aaron Losing said. “Other than a hiccup in the second quarter with some turnovers and things, that was one of our more complete games of the year.”
But it was O’Neill that shot out of the gate quickly, scoring two buckets in the game’s first minute as Brianna Bauer tossed in a layup and Lauren Young connected from 15 feet off the glass to give the Eagles a quick 4-0 lead.
O’Neill then applied a full-court press, which Crofton masterfully solved. Sprakel scored on three field goals and three free throws in a 90-second span to put the Warriors on top to stay at 9-4.
The Crofton center then scored twice more in the last minute of the first quarter for a 19-9 Warrior lead.
Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter as the Eagles outscored the Warriors 7-4.
“I thought the second quarter, we played pretty well,” O’Neill coach Brock Eichelberger said. “I thought we really scrapped and we really got after it.”
Crofton committed 12 turnovers in the first half but only two after the break as its offense began to fire on all cylinders. The Warriors led 25-18 before going on an 11-1 run midway through the third quarter to go on top 36-19.
“We talked at halftime about taking care of the basketball and some of that must have sunk in because we did a nice job; we played a great second half,” Losing said.
On the other side, O’Neill’s second half started with a major challenge as center Bauer picked up her third foul 14 seconds in. “We needed her to kind of neutralize Sprakel a little bit, but we didn’t do a very good job of it,” Eichelberger said.”
Meanwhile, Crofton’s smothering full-court pressure and man-to-man defense forced 19 O’Neill turnovers and and limited the Eagles to just 7 for 41 — 17 percent — shooting from the field.
Losing said he and his staff stress defense. “It’s difficult as a group to be super-consistent every game on the offensive end of the court. I just feel if we really put a lot of effort and focus into the defensive end every day in practice, that’s an area where we can become more consistent and that can help us reach our goals in the long run,” he said.
Eichelberger said his Eagles have a lot of work ahead. “They outplayed us on both ends of the court. We’ve got a young squad and we’ve got to get tougher both mentally and physically and we kind of hope over the break, we can figure a few things out,” he said.
Besides Sprakel’s 19,, two other Warriors finished the night in double figures as Kaley Einrem and Alexis Arens scored 10 points each.
Freshman Lauren Young paced the Eagles with 11 points.
Both teams will take a Christmas break and then get back in action next week. O’Neill will play two games in the Stanton holiday tournament beginning with a contest against the host Mustangs on Thursday, Dec. 27. Crofton hits the road on Friday, Dec. 28, for a matchup with Class D, No. 3 Wynot.
O’Neill 9 7 7 8 — 31
Crofton 19 4 19 23 — 65
CROFTON (7-2): Alexis Folkers 2 1-2 6; Danielle Steffen 2 0-0 4; Josie Sanger 0 0-2 0; Keley Einrem 4 2-2 10; Aubree Potts 3 0-0 6; Ella Wragge 3 1-3 7; Alexis Arens 4 1-2 10; Ashley Tramp 1 0-0 3; Lacey Sprakel 7 5-5 19; Totals 26 10-14 65.
O’NEILL (4-3): Taya Rainforth 0 2-4 2; Alyssa Eichelberger 0 0-0 0; Makayla Hilker 0 1-2 1; Meg Schluns 0 4-8 4; Claire Morrow 3 2-2 8; Blair Gutshall 0 1-2 1; Lauren Young 3 3-4 11; Brianna Bauer 1 2-2 4; Totals 7 15-24 31.
3-point field goals: O’Neill 2 (Young 2), Crofton 3 (Folkers, Arens, A. Tramp); Field goal percentage: O’Neill 7 for 41 - 17.1% (3-point: 2 for 12 - 16.7%), Crofton 26 for 51 - 51.0% (3-point: 3 for 10 - 30%); Rebounds: O’Neill 35, Crofton 34; Fouls: O’Neill 13, Crofton 18; Turnovers: O’Neill 19, Crofton 14.