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Defense pushes JB Hoops Plisko past Valley Thunder

WILKES-BARRE – The JB Hoops Plisko defense forced 17 first-half turnovers, then held Valley Thunder to 19 percent shooting in the second half.

The result was a comfortable, 51-24 victory for JB Hoops in the second game of an AAU basketball doubleheader at Wilkes University.

Katherine Dzwonczyk

Katherine Dzwonczyk, Bethany Maby and Moriah Murray had three steals each in the first half while JB Hoops was opening a 31-11 halftime lead.

The defense then contained Valley Thunder from there, holding it to 4-for-21 shooting in the second half, including an 8 ½-minute stretch without a field goal while JB Hoops expanded the lead to 51-22 late with an 11-3 run.

“It’s been more of a focus at practice lately – just trying to get them to understand the overall concepts of team defense, but also one-on-one defense, where to contain a girl, where to push a girl,” JB Hoops coach Megan Nowak said. “We’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement there. We’ve been happy with it. This past weekend, it was great as well.”

While it was forcing the 17 first-half turnovers, JB Hoops was committing just 6 and shooting over 50 percent to break the game open in the first half.

“We focused a lot (Monday) on being sure of our passes, limiting turnovers, making passes when the girl is open, versus not open and trying to force it,” Nowak said. “We saw a lot of improvement in our turnovers as well.”

Similar to the defense, the offense produced in different ways in the two halves.

Moriah Murray

Murray, a Dunmore seventh-grader playing in a game where the majority of players are already established as starters on high school varsity teams, was the game’s most effective offensive player in the first half. She scored all 13 of her points in the half, without missing a shot, going 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, hitting another field goal and making both foul shots.

“She does very well for us,” Nowak said. “I think it’s hard for her. I don’t think she realizes her full potential or where she’s at.

“It’s kind of our job to push her each game and try to develop her to be the best she can be.”

Murray finished with game-highs of 13 points and 6 assists while sharing the lead in steals with Maby with 4 each. She also grabbed three defensive rebounds and blocked a shot.

While Murray took just one shot in the second half – missing a 3-pointer – JB Hoops used balance to expand its lead.

Katherine Dzwonczyk had 6 of her 12 points, Mackenzie Steele had 4 of her 8 and both Brooke Wilder and Hannah Hughes hit 3-pointers.

Valley Thunder held a 31-22 rebounding edge. It was led by Madison Borum with 8 points and 7 rebounds.

The doubleheader was the first of two on consecutive nights.

Valley Thunder will send its same two teams out Wednesday at the Marts Center at Wilkes to face different JB Hoops opponents.

JB Hoops Callahan will take on Valley Thunder in the 6:15 opener. JB Hoops Reagan won Tuesday’s boys’ opener, 73-62.

JB Hoops Valvano will play Valley Thunder in the girls’ game at 7:15.

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