Before their season started, the Prescott girls basketball team said two of their main focuses for the 2017-18 season would be running an uptempo offense and controlling the pace of their games.
The Cardinals did just that on Friday, Dec. 1 in their first conference game against the Osceola Chieftains (2-1, 0-1).
Prescott put up 74 points in Friday night's game, many of which came from fastbreak buckets.
"I thought we ran the floor really well tonight," Cardinals head coach Ron Murphy said. "The pace of the game was very fast, and I thought that favored us."
The Cardinals missed their first two shots of the night, but got things going on an 8-0 run led by Allie Murphy and Mackenzie Carey who created fastbreak plays by scanning the court to find their teammates, Haylee Yaeger and Katie Miller, open at their own basket.
Yaeger, a new transfer this year, has already built chemistry with her new Prescott teammates, which she and her guards put on display Friday night.
"Haylee is really fitting in well," coach Murphy said. "Personally, she's fantastic, and obviously you can see that she's a fantastic big."
Down 12-5, Osceola called their first timeout of the night at 13:05, and decided to put full-court pressure on the Cardinals to try and slow down their offense.
The Chieftain's press was no match for Allie Murphy.
"She's got a lot of experience," coach Murphy said about his daughter, Allie. "She's been starting since she was a freshman, so it's time for her to be the big girl."
The junior point guard was unphased by double and triple teams, and created multiple unselfish plays for her teammates while still taking the ball to the hole herself when necessary.
"We knew they'd do a two-man jump press, but I thought Allie did a fantastic job of dissecting that," coach Murphy said. "Even when she gets in a trap she can usually work herself out of it."
Prescott's lead was soon extended to 13 points after Bella Lenz hit two three-pointers, and Allie Murphy scored a layup to bring the score to 26-13.
The Cardinals did commit seven fouls before the first 10 minutes of the game were through, however, and were significantly outrebounded by the Chieftain's Katie Haase who led her team with 23 points and 13 rebounds — her first double-double of the season.
Murphy was more than pleased with his team's offensive effort, but said the Cardinals still have a ways to go on defense.
"Our defense wasn't good enough tonight," Murphy said. "We gave up 50 points; that's too many on most nights."
Many of the Chieftains' 50 came from second-chance baskets that Haase was able to secure after grabbing boards when the Cardinals failed to box her out.
"We've got a long ways to go on our rebounding, but I'm at least happy to see some of the things we've been emphasizing," Murphy said.
The Cardinals were able to maintain a fast-paced offense throughout the first half, which earned them a 47-28 advantage at halftime.
Lenz, the freshman who played like an experienced senior on Friday night, got things going for the Cardinals to start the second half by driving to the basket, finishing at the rim, and completing the three-point play by making her free throw after she was fouled on the layup.
Prescott's continuous momentum was too much for the Chieftains who called their second timeout shortly after the start of the second half.
The Chieftains were able to cut the Cardinals lead to 18 in the second half, but Prescott's offensive contributions from Miller, Carey, Murphy, Yaeger and Lenz gave the Cardinals a comfortable lead that they capitalized on with a final score of 74-50.
The now 1-1 Cardinals proved that they have many offensive options against the Chieftains, but they'll have to take their defense to the next level to secure a win against the St. Croix Central Panthers, this year's Middle Border Conference favorites. The Cardinals host the Panthers on Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:15 p.m.