Coach Bryan Neuman has given his Lady Falcons a new look this year with a running and gunning style game. Here, he talks over strategy against Hamilton. Jean Schurman photo
Sometimes, even after 15 plus years coaching, a new direction is needed. That’s what has happened with the Lady Falcons of Florence. Bryan Neuman has been the girls’ basketball coach for 12 or 13 years. During that time, one of the mainstays of his coaching style has been a very controlled game with a strong inside game and not a lot of outside shooting. Not any more!
Last summer, Neuman took a look at what he thought this year’s team would be. He saw speed, and he saw about 10 girls that were scrappy and played hard. What he didn’t see was any height. He decided to capitalize on these factors and that led him in an entirely new direction.
“Am I taking advantage of speed, yes. But also more so taking advantage of the fact that I’ve got 10, 11, 12 girls that just work their tails off,” said Neuman. “I’ve coached or at least seen them play all the way back to 7th grade. I knew because of our size, our depth and our speed, this was going to be something that I wanted to try.”
Throughout the summer and fall he studied and worked on the new offense and by the first game, the Lady Falcons had a new look. Their first game they scored 49 points in the first half, more than they scored in most of their games last year.
Florence is concentrating on creating turnovers and then converting those turnovers to points. And if a player, any player, has an open shot, they take it. The result is a run and gun type game that gets everyone, the players, the coaches and the crowd into the game.
“We’re forcing over 40 turnovers a game right now,” said Neuman. “The girls are working their butts off. There isn’t one game in the six we’ve played where the other team has outworked us. They may have outscored us but not outworked us.”
Neuman plays almost all of his bench, subbing about once a minute. This alone creates problems for the other team because they’re never quite sure who they are guarding. Couple that with Florence’s quick hands and it’s a turnover waiting to happen.
Florence only has one senior on the team, Rosie O’Brien. She is a strong leader and their best shot. But when she’s not on the court, there’s someone else there willing to step up. With all of the players getting to play, Neuman says it’s a good way to build a player’s confidence and build their depth.
The one downside, by the middle of the second half, the team runs a little low on steam. Even with the constant subbing, because the team is working so hard, they get tired both physically and mentally. There have been a few games where the opposing team climbed back into the game as the clock ticked down.
“That’s one of the disadvantages to this. We’re gambling so much on defense and if the shot don’t fall, we’re giving up a wide open shot,” said Neuman. “But the kids are happy, and the coach is happy too.”
That’s what happened in Thursday night’s non-conference match against Hamilton. Florence had a four-point lead at the end of two quarters but Hamilton clawed their way back to take the lead at the end of three. The two teams battled to a draw at the end of regulation that sent the game into overtime. Hamilton prevailed, 81-74.
Florence jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter. The Lady Falcons scored seven treys in the quarter and finished with 11 treys in the game. But Hamilton picked up the tempo and never let Florence get too far ahead in the first half. Hamilton’s Kali Hayes nailed a shot at the end of the third quarter to give the Lady Broncs a two-point lead. The two teams battled back and forth in the fourth quarter. Kyndall Hoff sent a shot up that rattled in and out and back in to give Florence a two-point lead with about 20 seconds left in the game and it looked like that might be the final when Hamilton’s Mary Conwell was fouled. She sank both free throws and the game went to overtime.
O’Brien opened with a trey and scored another trey a few seconds later. But then Hamilton’s stellar freshman class went to work. Taylor Goligoski hit a couple of free throws and then Jaylee Albert hit a lay up. Goligoski hit another couple of free throws and Albert finished with a trey. Hamilton went on to win, 81-74. Rebecka Hood had 21 points for Hamilton, Goligoski 15 and Conwell 10. O’Brien led the Lady Falcons with 22 points and Cody Miller added 13.
Kyndall Hoff hits a clutch shot for the Lady Falcons against Hamilton. Hamilton won, 81-74 in overtime. Jean Schurman photo
Hamilton 81, Florence 74 OT
Hamilton – Rebecka Hood 21, Taylor Goligoski 15, Kali Hayes 3, Jaylee Albert 9, Casey Shifflett 2, Kara Wetzsteon 4, Mary Conwell 10, Sami Kratofil 2, Meghan Kratofil 15.
Florence – Megan Byrne 3, Cassandra Skeers 7, Courtney Byrne 3, Paige Bodner 6, Ava Kollman 6, Cody Miller 13, Hailey Huot 1, Carli O’Brien 6, Kyndall Hoff 7, Rosie O’Brien 22.
Darby picked up a conference win over Philipsburg, 59-36. Halie Rennaker led the Lady Tigers with 18 points. Also scoring in double figures were Lauren Dolcater with 12, Lacy Dolcater with 11 and Keely Ehmann with 10 points.
Darby 59, Philipsburg 36
Darby – Keely Ehmann 10, Keionna Cartaglia 2, Halie Rennaker 18, Lacey Dolcater 11, Lauren Dolcater 12, Destinee Andersen 2, Brianna Massey 4.
Philipsburg – Liz Graham 2, Maddy Donlan 6, Anna Pence 8, Shanna Johnson 12, Karissa Ogden 2, Kylie Nienhuis 6.
Victor lost to Lincoln in a close game, 33-26. The Lady Pirates had a 16 point fourth quarter to close the gap with the Lynx. Haley Tillotson led Victor with 10 points.
Lincoln 33, Victor 26
Lincoln – Jessica DenBoer 2, Katie Menard 9, Lori Brady 1, Karissa Fox 16, Ali Bard 5.
Victor – Shai Schafer 2, Ryan Tracey 4, Skye Mitchum 8, Haley Tillotson 10, Desi Carlton 2.