Head Coach J.R. Allen discusses team strategy during a first half time out. Photos courtesy of Steinbrenner Basketball.

For two weeks leading up to their match-up against the Patriots on Dec. 16, Steinbrenner girls basketball Head Coach J.R. Allen preached to his players the importance of playing as a team rather than individuals. Allen’s message paid off, as the Warriors (9-1) came back from an early first half deficit to deliver Freedom (8-3) its third straight loss, 55-40.

The Warriors looked rusty early, as Freedom’s speedy passing and aggressive defense halted scoring chances throughout the first half. But Allen told his players to relax and slowly cut back into the early Patriot lead.

“We came out a little bit tight and a little bit tense, but I think part of that is due to the nature of the game,” Allen said. “It was our first big challenge that we’ve had in quite a long time, but after the first quarter, we talked about getting the ball to the inside because that’s where we had an advantage.”

After slicing the lead to four early in the second period, Steinbrenner freshman Rachel Briere led the charge down court to the basket to put up 13 of her 21 points on the night and pull the Warriors within one at halftime.

“I really think all of the great passes helped so much,” Briere said. “Just the

Freshman forward Rachel Briere dominated the Freedom defense with her career high 21 points.

team knowing and trusting in me, I felt so confident.”

Steinbrenner would come out of the half firing on all cylinders, forcing Freedom’s offense to the outside with shots off the mark.

The Warriors would take their first lead of the game after forward Baylee Hooker received a cross court pass from center Rebecca Cohen to lay it in for the 27-26 lead which they would not surrender.

Freedom Head Coach Laurie Pacholke said her team has turn it around and take advantage of its opportunities when they are there.

Briere blocks a shot attempt from Freedom freshman Taylor Emery in the second half. Patriots Head Coach Laurie Pacholke said her team needs to get better to snap out of its three game skid which has them trailing Steinbrenner by two games in Class 7A-District 9.

“We got to get better,” Pacholke said. “We’re not playing well enough right now … we fell asleep on defense and they beat us backdoor and that can’t happen.”

Boys beat Freedom 63-47 to capture sixth win

 Steinbrenner defeated Freedom 67-43 on Dec. 16, solidifying the Warriors’ sixth win of the season. Steinbrenner center Joey Maloney led the way recording 22 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks en route to the victory.

“We just got to keep the momentum going,” said Maloney. “We weren’t playing our game early in the second quarter and coach told us to play the second half hard.”

Steinbrenner Head Coach Steve Williams says the early success of the program, comes from the surplus of veteran players and leadership across the board.

“We’ve just had the guys in the program for three years, we started with most of these guys as freshman and sophomores and I just think they’ve matured over the time that we’ve been together and they’re beginning to understand what it takes to be successful,” said Williams.

 Jeff Odom / Sports Editor

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