SCCS girls basketball uses first-half defense to beat Edgewood

Santa Clarita Christian teammates Emily Bernards (23) and Cassie Fawzi (11) knock a rebound away from Edgewood defender at Santa Clarita Christian School on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The Santa Clarita Christian School girls basketball team utilized a strong defensive first half to defeat Edgewood 51-42 at SCCS on Friday evening.

The Cardinals held the Lions to 13 points in the first half behind a smothering defense that didn’t give up many easy opportunities.

“Our strength right now is playing aggressive defense,” said SCCS head coach Dennis Schwesinger. “They are athletic enough to play man defense and put some pressure on the other team. We have to be able to hold teams to be able to stay in the game.”

SCCS (7-8) outworked Edgewood on the glass, both offensively and defensively, limiting the Lions to very few second-chance opportunities while providing themselves with numerous second and third attempts.

Freshman Kelly Lotz led the Cardinals in almost every category, recording a team-high 14 points, nine rebounds (six offensive) and five steals. She also added two assists.

Santa Clarita Christian teammates Kelly Lotz (12), left, and Chloe Lehman (5)double team Edgewood defender for a rebound at Santa Clarita Christian School on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We work on shooting on all the time, but we know that not every shot is going to go in so as long as we’re playing good defense we’ll always have more chances to shoot,” Lotz said. “Offense is important but defense is even more important because if you can’t play defense it doesn’t matter how much you score because the other team is going to score just as much as you.

“I think as long as we’re all playing as a team, we’re all rebounding and boxing out, we’re going to have great games.”

After struggling with her shot in the first quarter, senior Aaronya Crosswhite started to find a rhythm and was able to knock down some shots for the Cardinals.

Every time the Lions seemed poised to make a run, Crosswhite came up with a big shot, big rebound or defensive stop to put an end to any possible comeback Edgewood was hoping to make.

She finished the contest with 11 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two assists.

“Shooters have to shoot, so when she does have a dry spell we tell her to shoot out of it,” Schwesinger said about Crosswhite. “For her, she’s got to believe they’re going in and keep shooting the ball. Got to have a short memory on the misses and she brings strong defense and strong rebounding as well. She had a few key assists for us today as well.”

Santa Clarita Christian’s Chloe Lehman (5) shoots against Edgewood defenders at Santa Clarita Christian School on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Senior Chloe Lehman and sophomore Cassie Fawzi rounded out the scoring for SCCS, both finishing with 11 points.

Lehman added seven rebounds and three steals and Fawzi had four rebounds and three steals.

Emily Bernards was a force on the defensive glass, grabbing eight defensive rebounds and nine total. She added four points and an assist.

The Cardinals will get back into Heritage League play on Tuesday, facing a Vasquez team that has an identical league record at 2-2.

“I think it was definitely a good win just for us to get ready for our next league game because we know that team will be a lot bigger,” Lotz said. “We played as a team and we kept the energy going and even though we were winning we still played hard.”

Schwesinger said his team is going to work on its offense over the next few practices to try and get more consistent on that side of the ball.

He wants the offense to mirror the way the defense plays: aggressive.

“We need more offensive reps. Get their timing down because we are still a little out of sync,” he said. “Some of the aggression we have on defense we have to roll it over to offense. They have spurts, but we need a more consistent aggressive offense. It’s going to make a big difference for us in league, especially if we can continue to hold teams to below what they normally score.”

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