Zone defense works for Hephzibah's girls

Hephzibah girls 59, Thomson 33
Hephzibah's Queen Glenn (left) and Thomson's Asheleigh Burnett have a piece of the ball in Thursday's Region 3-AAA quarterfinal game. Hephzibah rode a 1-3-1 zone defense to the win.



While watching game film, Hephzibah coach Wendell Lofton noticed a puzzle Thomson couldn’t solve. So he and his team decided to do some befuddling themselves.

The Hephzibah girls basketball team implemented the 1-3-1 zone the day before Thursday’s 59-33 win against Thomson and spent most of the game turning missed shots and turnovers into points. The win at Josey in the Region 3-AAA Tournament gave Hephzibah a Class AAA state tournament bid and a spot in today’s region semifinals.

“I said, ‘Well, I’ll throw it in,’ ” Lofton said. “It worked really, really well.”

The Lady Rebels (16-6) scored the game’s first nine points and held Thomson to only four points in each of the first two quarters to put the game away early, with the zone the key. It was the first time this season Hephzibah used the 1-3-1.

The Lady Rebels’ double-teams led to passes and subsequent missed long shots, providing Tiffani Harrison with chances to race down and score inside or get fouled on drives.

“It’s easy, that’s all we’ve been doing for four years,” Harrison said of the transition game.

Harrison, who also hit nine consecutive free throws, scored 32 points. She did most of her scoring in the second half, when she posted 20 of 24 team points in one stretch.

On defense, teammate Shanice Williams often closed the inside when threatened, getting blocks and helping to keep the Lady Bulldogs without any third-quarter points until there was a little more than four minutes to go.

When the Lady Bulldogs did start hitting shots, it was only after the Lady Rebels were already up more than 20 points. Leading Thomson scorer, Brittany Reid, did most of her damage in the second half, when she tallied eight of her 11 points.

But Thomson took too long to get into rhythm, as Lofton was impressed with how quickly his players learned the 1-3-1, especially when freshmen make up half of the roster.

As for Harrison, she wasn’t surprised the decision worked.

“He’s been coaching forever,” Harrison smiled, talking about Lofton.

See more staff photos from the game


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