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High school girls basketball: Indian River defense delivers shutdown performance vs. General Brown

Feb. 1—DEXTER — Much of the heart of Indian River's success in girls basketball has come from deploying a relentless defense.

Such was the case on Thursday night in a division showdown as the Warriors delivered a defensive gem.

Indian River yielded nearly a season-low in points en route to recording a 45-24 road win against General Brown in a Frontier League "A-B" Division encounter.

The Warriors allowed only 20 points in the first half and went on to yield just four points the rest of the way, including shutting out the Lions in the fourth quarter.

"We gave four points in the second half," Indian River coach Jim Whitley said. "And if you give up four points in the second half against a team as good as they are, you're going to win games. We were just ready to play."

Sparked by its pressure defense, Indian River recorded 22 steals as a team on the night to seize the initiative.

"It feels really good," Warriors senior point guard Ravan Marsell said. "GB's always been a good competitor for us so each time we play them you never know who's going to win, but we came out with high energy, and I think that we had it in our minds that we were confident and that helped a lot."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the floor, Marsell scored a game-high 16 points and Isabella Davis recorded a double-double by generating 11 points and registering a team-high 12 rebounds.

"Usually our good defense results in plays like layups or 3-pointers, so I think that we had 22 steals in the game so that always results in some sort of points on the board," Marsell said. "So that's how we get our points."

With the win, the Warriors improved to 14-1 on the season, including 10-1 in league play.

"It feels awesome, it's pretty nice," Davis, also a senior, said. "We all try and talk out there and just helping when somebody needs help, obviously. Being motivated and just hustling, so it's a nice win."

To lead the way defensively, Marsell and Michaela Delles each recorded six steals while Keera LaLonde totaled five.

"We haven't been playing our best basketball in the last couple weeks, we've had a hard time putting the ball in the basket," General Brown coach Janelle Ferris said. "Obviously their pressure is phenomenal and we knew what was coming, but had a difficult time handling it. It was definitely not our most composed game."

Indian River's attention to defense down to the last player makes it difficult for foes.

"I do enjoy playing defense, I think every one on the team enjoys playing defense because they know their hard work on defense will result in getting a layup or an assist," Marsell said. "So I think that really generates it and it's not just one person on the team that does all the defense, it's a team thing and everyone contributes."

Freshman center Leah Ferris scored eight points, with six of them coming in the first half, to pace General Brown (13-4, 11-1).

"The younger Ferris girl did a really nice job," Whitley said. "She's one of their top scorers and Ravan did a great job on her, I mean we did a great job all around defensively, Offensively, we didn't score a lot of points, we didn't score our typical 62 or 63, but because we played so well on defense we didn't need to."

Trailing 13-4 after the first quarter, the Lions fell behind by as many as 15 points in the second period, but generated a 13-4 surge of their own to pull within five points and trailed 27-20 at halftime.

Yet after getting within eight points at 32-24 midway through the third quarter General Brown would not score again.

"We did man-to-man, we did a little bit of a zone press, but for the most part we played man-to-man and we played well tonight," Whitley said.

Indian River also avenged a 57-51 loss to General Brown on Dec. 23 at Jefferson Community College. Since then, it hasn't lost and extended its winning streak to eight games with Thursday's triumph.

"Last night at practice we showed them film of the last game and they were ready to play tonight," Whitley said. "They were a little frustrated with how we played them last game. And (General Brown is) very good team, she does a very nice job with them. But our pressure was just great, they couldn't do a lot with us."

While the Lions completed league play in the regular season, the Warriors have one league game left — at South Jefferson on Monday.

With a win, they would finish in a tie for first place with General Brown in the new "A-B" Division format, and own the tiebreaker between the two teams since they won the last encounter in the league.

The top four teams in the division advance to next week's league playoffs with the final to be held at Jefferson Community College.

"This is the time of year you want to play well, and we are," Whitley said. "You want to peak towards this time of year."

Said the General Brown coach: "The group we have has got a lot of potential, but really we're looking for some people to step up and kind of take on bigger roles than what we're doing right now," Ferris said. "I hope we can learn from this."

Indian River, which came into the week ranked fifth in the state in Class A, won a Section 3 title last year en route to playing in the state playoffs.

"We have a few regular season games left, so we'll see them again probably in the Frontier League tournament," Marsell said. "But as sectionals come up we've just got to keep working hard, we can't stand still, we've got to keep being confident."

General Brown, which is ranked No. 11 in the state in Class B, reached the sectional semifinals last season a year after reaching the state semifinals.

"Indian River is a good team, it's comforting knowing we lost to a good team," Ferris said. "We played I think decent defense, kept them under 50 points, which is not really something that they see often either. But again, definitely our composure and our confidence and when we're out there on the court doing things that we know that we can't do, we have to try and learn from this."