“You do two things when trying to beat a zone defense,” said Nickerson during his postgame interview that evolved into a basketball lesson. “One, you slowly break it down with solid ball handling. And, two, you remain calm. We didn’t do, either. But, when you start out fast at the beginning, it’s hard to switch gears.”
The gears that Excel chose — whether they were set in fast mode or set to automatic — were good enough for the Eagles to defeat the Warriors, 44-37, Friday at the Eagles’ Nest.
In their last meeting, the Eagles beat SACA’s man-to-man defense, 60-50.
“I had a feeling that we would be facing something other than a man-to-man defense about 10 minutes before game time,” Nickerson said. “Their coach [Gary Gage] talked about a change in philosophy that enabled his team to win their last game. In essence, you don’t change philosophy, you change defense.”
SACA was the winner of just two games before defeating St. Francis, 61-59, Tuesday. The Knights were the winners of 12 games overall, 9-2 in their respective region.
The Eagles improved to 22-1 overall, and a perfect 10-0 in region 6A-A, by playing solid defense of their own. In a game which featured only four free throw attempts, Excel limited SACA to just 15 second-half points. In turn, SACA’s defense limited Excel’s impatient offense to just 18 second-half points.
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