By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Bulldogs take control of the West Valley League

Willamina (15-3, 8-0) brought its win streak to six games Tuesday with a 50-35 win over Amity (13-4, 6-2), and they did it through an ironclad 2-3 zone defense.

“We’ve got some good defenders on this team,” Willamina coach Tom Anderson said. “We do much better in the zone than in a man, and it’s because we have some real good anticipators off the ball.”

The purpose of the zone defense — any zone defense — is to create turnovers. The star anticipators for the Bulldogs were juniors Kyra Toney and Zoey Holsclaw. The two led the team with nine forced turnovers.

The Willamina zone forced 17 Amity turnovers in the win.

Amity coach Reg McShane said a zone defense is much more effective when it creates an immense amount of pressure on an offense. Something he said the Bulldogs succeeded in.

“They put a lot of pressure on,” McShane said. “That caused us to try to force the ball and I think made us struggle to run through our plays, and it didn’t allow us to shift. That caused us to miss four easy layups in that first half.”

As a result of the pressure from the zone, Amity was held to nine points or fewer in three of the four quarters. The Bulldogs forced three Warrior turnovers in the first three minutes of the game and opened with a 10-0 lead and won the quarter 16-9.

The Willamina zone continued to shine through the second forcing five turnovers, equaling its turnover count from the first. Amity continued to struggle finding ways to get through the Bulldogs’ zone and scored five points in the second and trailed 29-14 at halftime.

The 2-3 zone looks easy when it’s executed correctly, but Toney said it’s anything but when it comes time to execute it.

“It has to be really tight with knowing position and where to go,” Toney said. “Tonight we played it really tight and didn’t allow them to pound it into the post like they wanted to do. We pressured them really well on the outside which meant the defense was working for us.”

It did more than work. It shut the Warrior offense down.

The Willamina defense held Amity to 12-of-50 (24 percent) shooting from the field and 9-of-36 (25 percent) from 3-point range.

“It’s pretty tough to compete when you struggle like that,” McShane said. “We had to play around with the lineup a lot because of it, and it hurt us.”

The zone dominated the second half keeping the Warriors to seven points by the end of the third quarter. They had their most successful offensive quarter in the fourth scoring 14 points and holding Willamina to eight.

The second half of the basketball season has just started, and there are six games left for the Bulldogs to play. Anderson said his team has a solid grasp on the type off offenses they face in the West Valley League, and that can only benefit them going forward.

“The girls are really starting to learn,” Anderson said. “They are learning what the other teams are doing offensively, and they are making their own adjustments on the court. We practiced it for a day, and they came out and made adjustments in the paint, and I thought we did a good job defensively.”

Notes: Kyra Toney and Zoey Holsclaw led all Willamina scorers with 12points each. Brook Wilson had 10 points and eight rebounds. Lindsay McShane led Amity with nine points.

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