For Claira McGowan, coach Spencer Richardson and the rest of Team Brandan Wright 2021 UAA, a promising start Sunday at the Triple Crown NIC was turning into something else.
An impressive beginning had quickly grown cold. BW's 6-0 lead turned into a deficit against FBC Bounce Nation 2021, and Richardson's team had missed 13 straight shots.
Not to worry. Team BW turned to its pressure defense, and it made it all the difference. When all was said and done, Richardson's team had forced 25 turnovers en route to a 53-27 victory in the 17u division.
"We're a pretty good shooting team, but we know that any time our shots aren't falling, we can rely on our defense -- and that's what happened today," said McGowan, who had four steals. "We were struggling to make shots, but then started getting points off of turnovers."
Nine different Team BW players had at least one steal.
"We've always got to play really hard on defense," said Amelia Osgood, who led all scorers with 11 points. "We didn't worry too much, because we know it's just a matter of time before we get our flow going on offense again."
Once those shots started falling, Team BW started to assert itself on the scoreboard. Ellen Colson, Nicole Egeruoh and Tameia Shaw all had baskets late in the first half to give their club a 20-14 halftime lead. Osgood opened the second half with a 3-pointer, pushing the lead to nine.
FBC, which was led by seven points apiece from Sade Harell and Bryana Hardy, scored twice to cut its deficit to 23-18. But then Team BW turned up the pressure again.
Richardson's team forced nine turnovers the final four minutes of the third quarter, going on a 14-2 run that turned a close five-point game into a 37-20 rout by the end of the third period.
"Some games it clicks more than others, but sometimes it requires a bold personality to step up and get a stop when your team needs it," McGowan said. "Usually, we make more shots and so our defense doesn't have to carry us as much. But today, it had to carry us."
Three-pointers by Osgood, McGowan and Iyana Moore helped extend the lead to 28 before an FBC basket at the buzzer.
In the 15u division of the TC NIC, Team BW 2023 Black was the only squad to go a perfect 4-0 on the weekend. Three other Team BW squads in the division were 3-0.