TULARE — Hanford got off on the right track on Thursday in the 9th Annual Tulare Mid-Winter Showcase Invitational with a 67-22 victory over McLane.
The Bullpups had all 11 girls play in the game and 10 of them scored at least one basket. Hanford guard Kate McClard led the way with a game-high 15 points, including 10 in the first quarter to get the early momentum on their side, but overall it was a complete team effort.
“More than anything else, it makes the game fun when everyone’s getting in,” Hanford coach Doug Pitkin said. “Everyone’s involved in the game so the effort goes up.”
Hanford guard Alyssa Chapman had quite the day with a season-high 12 points and played a big role in the team’s win. Chapman’s previous season-high was seven points against Redwood on Dec. 12.
Chapman and Nyomi Solis were outstanding on the defensive side of the ball and did all the little things that won’t show up on the stat sheet: Tie-ups for jump ball calls, getting on the floor for loose balls, double teaming in the back court and making McLane work for every pass.
The excellent effort was noticed by the fifth-year head coach.
“They pinned the ball one side, they look for a trap opportunity, when a trap is made they look for the next pass,” Pitkin said. “Those were the highlights of the second half … it was our rotations that were much better.”
Leading 39-13 to begin the third quarter, Hanford (7-7, 1-0 WYL) came out with high energy, which translated into a 17-2 run, including a pretty 3-pointer by McClard from the top of the key.
Defensively, Hanford switched from the press in the first half to a 2-3 zone, but that didn’t stop Solis from anticipating passing lanes or going for a block. The sophomore displayed a tenacity that’s hard to find in young players.
“I was very, very happy with [Solis],” Pitkin said. “She started to anticipate passes and getting out and causing tie-ups and turnovers.”
Hanford also got out on the fast break much more with Pitkin yelling from the bench “Go! Go!” any time the Bullpups came down with a rebound. Junior Sapphire Jones started the second half and, as usual, slashed to the cup every chance she got. Jones picked up six points in the third quarter and eight for the game.
Hanford led 61-19 heading into the final period and didn’t score much, but still managed to outscore McLane 6-3.
McClard got things started with her scoring in a variety of ways. She displayed her jumper, drove to the cup and found open shots on the wing with her movement.
“Kate scoring is always part of the plan,” Pitkin said with a laugh. “That’s plan A and then we’ll go to B and C.”
Pitkin praised her for her ability to understand when to make the extra pass and when to take the shot saying, “She’s a fantastic teammate in that regard.”
Hanford started the game on an 8-0 run before leading 16-5 after the first eight minutes.
Defense led to offense in the second quarter and the Bullpups scored 23 points in the second quarter en route to a 42-point halftime lead.
“We hit our lanes, got off on transition — the first half for some reason we were a little tentative,” Pitkin said. “I was happy the second half quite a bit we shared the ball a bit more. First half we were kind of forcing up ill-advised shots.”
As much as they ran on offense, Pitkin still wants to go faster. He said the guards weren’t hitting their lanes early on and they trailed the dribble instead of getting out in front.
Hanford has a chance to make those adjustments and more as the tournament continues through Saturday.