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Improvement key for JB Hoops Valvano

MANHEIM – JB Hoops Valvano came out flying Friday night for its first game of the Blue Chip Pre-Season Challenge, powered by Under Armour.

With Hannah Smith’s aggressive drives to the basket leading the transition game and the post players setting each other up in a high post-low post, half-court attack, JB Hoops raced to an 18-point halftime lead on the way to a 53-29 victory over Erudite Thomas at Spooky Nook Sports.

Hannah Smith

JB Hoops shot 50 percent in the first half of the opener on the way to a 30-12 lead.

It ended the first night at 1-1, after dropping a 53-43 decision to Jersey Shore Starz11. The team is right back out on the courts for 9:00 and 11:20 a.m. games Saturday before finishing up Sunday morning.

“We played two very good teams and we’re getting better,” JB Hoops coach Corey Valvano said. “It was good to see the girls show off their talent to the coaches that are here.

“There was improvement over last week, which is what we want to see.”

That improvement was immediately evident.

Smith made her first four shots while scoring nine of her 11 points in the first half. She scored on three strong moves to the basket on contested shots on the fastbreak and also hit a 3-pointer.

“She set the tone for everyone to keep attacking the basket,” Valvano said.

Smith scored the game’s first five points. She had nine in a 25-8 start, but as the first half progressed was getting offensive help as JB Hoops began attacking from different angles.

Lauren Charlton

Four players had two assists each in the first half as the team’s tallest players set each other up for close-range baskets.

Lauren Charlton joined Smith in double figures with 10 points, but four others scored at least six.

“We kind of emphasize to get the ball inside against a smaller team because we have to take advantage of our height,” Valvano said. “They did a good job of that in the first game.

“ … Our post players are working very hard at becoming good passers and getting good position in the high-low game. It was good to see high-low working in both games.”

JB Hoops was unable to duplicate the opening victory, however, when Jersey Shore took a 31-20 halftime lead, then held off a series of comeback attempts.

“They shot the ball real well and I don’t think we closed out strong enough in the first half,” Valvano said.

Victoria Toomey led JB Hoops with 16 points in the loss.

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