The Upperman Lady Bees are off to a 12-2 start heading into the new year, and while they’ve had games where they’ve just out-scored the other team, it’s been the defense that has shined in their best moments.
They’ve held their opponents to 40 points or less in seven of their 14 games, and of those seven, foes have failed to score 30 points against the Lady Bees’ defense.
“The key so far is that we have a lot of depth, and we’ve got a lot of athleticism,” Head Coach Dana McWilliams said. “We’re still a work in progress, but we’re having a time becoming a good team.”
The toughest part of the defense has been the press, as it has led to easy baskets in transition off of steals. Often, these are the baskets that energize a scoring run that allows Upperman to take control of the game. McWilliams says that while it’s been successful this season, it’s always been a focus of the defense.
“That’s something that has always been important for us,” McWilliams said. “We like to put pressure on people, defensively. I feel like this team is starting to understand our press a little bit better, and what we need to do to be successful. Hopefully, that turns into some easy baskets for us.”
When asked what it takes to run a press like their’s, McWilliams says it comes down to the players you have, and how much they buy in to learning the system.
“You want to have good athletes and good basketball players,” McWilliams said. “You want people that understand that you’ve got to be playing hard the entire time and playing with a lot of energy.”
Freshman Jayla Cobb has been a primary catalyst on the defensive end, as she even put together a game where she had a double-double with points and steals. Against Pedro Menedez (FL) on Dec. 21, Cobb recorded a game-high 11 steals to go along with 15 points to help hold the Falcons to a mere 19 points for the entire game.
McWilliams says that she’s really likes what Cobb has given her so far this year, though it’s far from a surprise.
“She’s having a great freshman year so far, exactly what I expected her to do,” McWilliams said. “As a freshman, it’s tough defensively to come in and be ready to play, but she’s a smart player and she’s doing everything we ask.”
Upperman’s next contest will be on Saturday when they host The King’s Academy.