West Xtra: After lengthy respite, Beaver Falls wants to restart its engine
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As the Beaver Falls girls basketball team's season has progressed and the pressure increased, the Tigers have clamped down on defense.
Despite losing to Seton-LaSalle, the eventual champion, in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals on Feb. 24, Beaver Falls (15-10) has qualified for the PIAA tournament, and its ability to prevent the other team from scoring has been chief among the reasons why.
The Tigers, by virtue of losing to the WPIAL champions, will enter the PIAA playoffs as the WPIAL's No. 5 team and will play District 9 champion Cranberry (23-1), a perennial power in girls basketball, at 6 p.m. Friday at Clarion University's Tippin Gymnasium.
During a seven-game stretch that included the end of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs -- both victories -- the Tigers did not allow any opponent to score 50 points or more. They allowed an average of 35.9 points per game in that time period.
"Defense. We're just playing really solid defense," Beaver Falls coach Brad Vaughn said. "That's what we were able to do those first two playoff games. We've been concentrating on trying to shut down the other team's best player. And it's been working ...
"Well, every game but that last game."
Beaver Falls' most recent contest is a glaring exception, but that came against undefeated and No. 1-ranked Seton-LaSalle. The Rebels have provided for many a statistical aberration for opponents in recent months.
But in the Tigers' 15 victories, only once has an opponent scored more than 47 points.
"We've spent a lot of time on defense," Vaughn said. "Just trying to make sure we're always in the right spots as far as help, close-outs and all that good stuff. It's improved throughout the year. Not being the biggest team, you've got to be able to kind of slow down what people are doing up front."
On face value, the defense is a positive for the Tigers, of course. But the strong play at that end of the floor has paid dividends offensively, too.
"We're getting more stops, and when we do, we've created better opportunities [offensively] for scoring more," said junior guard Ayana Vaughn, who is Beaver Falls' leading scorer and the coach's daughter.
First Published 2012-03-07 23:40:10