COVINGTON — Anna had several long spurts without making a basket in a Division III sectional opener on Thursday at Covington High School.
Streaky shooting has happened before to the team this year. That’s why the Rockets emphasize defense and have suffocated opponent after opponent — including New Lebanon Dixie on Thursday.
The No. 3 seed Rockets jumped out to a 15-point lead by the end of the first quarter and cruised to a 52-10 victory over Dixie.
Anna (17-4) advances to face either Greenon or Milton-Union in a sectional semifinal next Thursday at Covington. Greenon and Milton-Union will face off in a first-round game on Saturday morning in Covington.
Dixie became the seventh opponent Anna has held to under 30 points this season. The Greyhounds’ scoring output was the lowest of any opponent this season.
“The last stretch of three or four games, our defense had kind of dropped a little bit,” Anna coach Jeff Maurer said. “After the Lehman game (a 35-29 win on Feb. 5), we told the girls that we are going to get back to what we do, and that’s buckling down on defense and getting after it.
“… The offense today, we had good offense and good shots, and some of them just didn’t go down. You’ll have nights like that. That’s why we tell the girls that if you play defense, that’ll get the job done when you’re not shooting well.”
Ella Doseck and Kiplyn Rowland led the Rockets with 13 points each while Breah Kuck finished with nine, all on 3-pointers in the first half.
Anna led by 21 points at halftime and quickly extended its lead in the third quarter with a 12-0 run. After Kiley McQueen scored the Greyhounds’ first field goal of the game with 7:10 left in the third, the Rockets went on their big run.
Lauren Barhorst scored a basket in the paint, then Doseck made consecutive layups. Rowland made a pair of free throws with 4:51 left, then Doseck made another pair of layups. Rowland capped off the run with a basket with 2:42 left to put Anna head 40-7.
The Rockets didn’t score a point for nearly five minutes but got hot again and quickly pushed the advantage over 35 points in the fourth quarter, which caused the rest of the game to be run with a running clock.
Many of Anna’s points came off Dixie turnovers, but Maurer was more pleased with another area of the team’s defense.
“I was more pleased with the times we get five-second counts by keeping them in front of us and denying the wings and applying ball pressure than the times we just took the ball and went the other way with it,” Maurer said. “That’s team defense when you get a five-second count.”
The Rockets struggled shooting for much of the first quarter but shut down Dixie’s offense. Doseck and Kuck hit 3s in the first minute of the first to put the team ahead 6-0, then Barhorst made basket in the paint with 6:16 left to push the advantage to eight.
Anna didn’t score over the next four minutes, but Rowland hit two 3s and made a put-back in the paint in the final two minutes to boost the lead to 16-1.
Doseck hit a long two-point shot from just inside the right corner to push Anna’s lead to 23-3 with 4:48 left in the second. The Rockets didn’t score again until Kuck made a 3 from the right wing with six seconds left to extend the halftime lead to 26-5.
Maurer said he’ll be in attendance on Saturday to scout the team’s next opponent.
“Those are two quality teams,” Maurer said of Milton-Union and Greenon. “We’ve already started to break down some film to prepare. It’ll be a test for sure.”
Dixie finishes 5-18 overall.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.