When Apex point guard Madi Field first brought the ball across midcourt to start Monday’s Southwest Wake Athletic Conference girls basketball game with visiting Athens Drive, she paused and kept dribbling in place before calling out what offense to run.
In the final week of the regular season, Apex had never seen what Athens Drive threw at it: a Triangle-and-2 defense. Two Jaguars shadowed Sam Michel and Kim Schuh, Apex’s top seniors.
For most of the game, those two stood near midcourt and the Cougars used the extra space to try to beat Athens in a little 3-on-3 hoops.
Though the game lacked offensive rhythm, as such defenses are meant to induce, Apex came out on the better end of it, holding off Athens Drive 42-40.
“It was a great move on defense because it took Sam out of the middle and Kim out of the middle,” Apex coach Charli Michael said.
Apex (16-6, 12-3) still has an outside shot at a SWAC title if Green Hope loses once this week and Apex wins Friday against Middle Creek.
Field had an open lane for most of the night and got hot late in the game, hitting four straight floaters to finish with eight points.
Josie Tarlton took advantage of having fewer players to fight for rebounds with and finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Michel had 11 rebounds despite being pulled away from the basket for much of the night.
Athens Drive (13-9, 5-9) continued its late slide, having now lost five in a row. The Jaguars doubled their 3-point percentage from 9 to 18 percent as they rallied in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been struggling offensively. Confidence is down and chemistry is kind of a little out of whack and we’re struggling a little bit; but we’re young,” Athens coach Dayna Jordan said. “What killed us tonight was we were 10 of 21 from the foul line. We got to the line, we just didn’t convert.”
Robin Gallagher had a team-high 16 points, followed by Haleigh Crews’ 11 points and Hanna Malik’s 10 points. Gallagher and Tashayla White tied for a team-high 10 rebounds.