It’s no secret that the Perryville girls’ basketball team likes to shoot three-pointers in bulk. Unfortunately, sometimes those outside shots don’t fall and they have to find other ways to win.
They found a way on Thursday.
Perryville made just four three-pointers, but the defense forced 25 turnovers in route to a 46-34 victory over visiting De Soto. The victory for Perryville (8-3) moves them to 4-0 in the Jefferson County Athletic Association Conference, which would normally net them a conference title. However, this season Perryville will play each conference opponent twice.
Perryville coach Angela Fulton was happy with the victory, but she knows her team can play much better.
“A win is a win and we will take them any way we can get them, but I didn’t feel like that was our best game,” Fulton said. “We went in spurts where we would play really well and others where we were lackadaisical and rushed things offensively.”
Kyla Schnurbusch led Perryville with a game-high 17 points, while Leah Buerck added 9 points and Rachel Riney chipped in 8 points. Perryville sharpshooter Ciara Ehlers scored 5 points, and made just one three pointer.
As it turned out, that was a theme during the game.
Ehlers made the first three-pointer of the game, and the three of the four shots made in the first quarter were from beyond the arc, two of them made by Buerck. However, they made just one three-pointer the rest of the game and none in the second half. Perryville shot 4-24 from beyond the arc for the game.
“They went zone on us all night and we had to take our time and force them into playing man-to-man,” Fulton said. “At times we did a good job and other times we did not. When we are able to use our quickness and get into the paint that opens a lot of other things up for us. That’s when we thrive.”
In contrast, De Soto earned a majority of their points in the paint. De Soto went 1-11 on three-pointers and had four putbacks off offensive rebounds in the first half. The Dragons made four shots outside the paint in the game and outrebounded Perryville 40-34 in the contest.
“That’s been our problem all year,” Fulton said. “Our tallest person is probably 5’ 8” and we didn’t adjust very well to that at times.”
The Pirates did adjust one way. however. They just didn’t let De Soto pass it inside, coming away with eight turnovers off their full court press in the second quarter. After leading 11-8 after the first quarter, Schurbusch came away with a steal and a pass to Teagan Bishop resulted in a 28-20 lead with two minutes remaining in the first half. Schnurbusch and Riney converted steals into baskets in the final minute to give Perryville a 32-20 lead at halftime.
Perryville went into one of their cold stretches in the third quarter after a steal and basket by Bishop put Perryville ahead 36-20 with seven minutes left in the period, the Pirates mustered just two points the rest of the frame and De Soto took advantage closing that margin to single digits to start the fourth at 38-30.
De Soto got within six points after a basket by De Soto’s Abby Pope with 3:38 and that’s when Fulton then deployed what she called a stall. It worked to some degree as Perryville took nearly one minute off the clock before De Soto was forced to foul to stop the possession.
“When your shots aren’t falling you have to resort to different things some times to stop the other team.” Fulton said.
That and the Pirates defense slowed the Dragons down as they did not score another point the remainder of the game.
Perryville will return to action on Monday when they travel to Herculaneum. The Pirates will play their next conference game against Festus on Jan. 21. Fulton said that it is one of the team’s goals to win the JCAA, but it will be difficult to beat a team twice in one year, and in Hillsboro’s case three times, to secure the championship.
“My goal is to find that consistency right now,” Fulton said. “That’s what will take us to the next level when we see these teams again.”