The Rocklin girls basketball team rolled into Albert Ali Gymnasium Wednesday night as the highest scoring team in the Sierra Foothill League, averaging more than 61 points per game.
The Lady Miners weren’t intimidated.
The Lady Miners shut down the Thunder offense with their lightning-quick hands, grabbing 16 steals as their aggressive style propelled them to a 57-36 victory.
While Nevada Union’s defense was stellar from start to finish, getting its offense going was a bit of a challenge in the first quarter.
In the opening stanza, the Lady Miners (14-3, 2-0 SFL) struggled from the field and didn’t sink a basket until nearly five minutes had passed in the quarter. NU and Rocklin (12-7, 0-2 SFL) mucked their way to a 9-6 score after one quarter.
Nicole Lierly got things going for NU in the second quarter, scoring six points on a series of drives to the hoop and hitting a pair of free throws. Lierly accounted for eight of NU’s 15 points in the quarter and finished with a team-high 16. The senior also had a pair of assists and two steals.
Kaylin Martin, Sammy DeHart and Olivia Gulsvig added buckets in the second to give NU a 24-20 halftime lead.
In the third, NU found its rhythm.
“(The Thunder) were switching everything,” NU head coach John McDaniel said. “We had to look for ways to score that we weren’t used to, which is maybe slipping to the basket or a backdoor cut, just something different that will make a switching team pay a little bit.”
Lierly hit a jumper to open the quarter and followed with a layup off a Sydney Porter assist. The Lady Miners continued their suffocating defense, forcing Rocklin turnovers, which in turn created easy baskets for NU.
The NU defense held Rocklin without a field goal until there were just over two minutes left in the quarter and held the Thunder to only five for the entire quarter.
NU’s Emma Peterson came alive in the third, sinking three 3-pointers to put the Lady Miners up 43-25 by quarter’s end.
The Lady Miners never let Rocklin back in it, continuing their aggressive defense and finishing with a 21-point blowout over their SFL foe.
Rocklin spent much of its defensive effort throughout the game trying to contain NU’s leading scorer, Sydney Porter, and did a good job to an extent, said McDaniel. But it opened up scoring opportunities for others.
“They keyed in on (Porter), they didn’t want her to touch the ball, and they were pretty successful,” he said. “But when you’ve got Kaylin, Nicole, Sammy, Olivia and Emma hitting 3s and Erin (Selleck) taking it to the hole, there’s just so many players you can go to. It’s a pretty good luxury to have.”
Porter finished with three points, three steals and an assist.
NU got points from 10 different players on the night, including strong games from post players DeHart and Sarina Orellana. DeHart finished with six points and seven rebounds, and Orellana tallied five points and four rebounds.
The Lady Miners are off to a strong start in the SFL with two convincing wins, as they continue their quest to be Sac-Joaquin Section champs.
“Our goal is to win the section and go to Arco,” Lierly said. “We all have the same goal. We have ever since we were little kids.”
NU takes the court again at 7 p.m. Friday when to host Granite Bay.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call (530) 477-4232 or email email@example.com.