COOS BAY — On a night its shooting wasn’t its best, the Marshfield defense was absolutely stifling.
In the Pirates’ girls basketball home opener against Cottage Grove on Tuesday night, Marshfield forced 28 turnovers, held the Lions to 31 percent shooting and pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 46-29.
Tess Garrett led Marshfield with 16 points and 10 steals as the Pirates improved to 3-0. Hailey Browning had six steals and 11 rebounds to go with four points.
“I think it went pretty well,” Browning said. “We could’ve done better on the offensive end, but our defense was pretty good.”
Marshfield used its intense, pressure-focused defense to get Cottage Grove, playing its first game of the year, out of sorts early.
Browning, who head coach Bruce Bryant said is playing with exceedingly more confidence this season, was camping in Cottage Grove’s passing lanes early on. The lanky junior wing had five first-quarter steals as Cottage Grove took just six shots in the initial period.
“She’s long and we’ve told her, ‘Don’t wait to get your arms out,’” Bryant said of Browning. “’Get your arms out when the pass is made.’ She’s very quick. She’s very long and quick, and when you put together long and quick it’s tough to get the ball around. You can’t coach lanky.”
Marshfield’s offense, though, lagged behind. Early, the ball just didn’t go in after Marshfield got good looks against Cottage Grove’s zone defense. The Pirates shot just 30 percent (9-30) in the first half despite holding a 22-10 lead after two quarters.
That lead came due to a 12-2 run that lasted the final 5:37 of that second period. Kaylin Dea scored twice during the run in her first game at the Pirate Palace.
In the third quarter, Cottage Grove began working the ball around against the Pirates’ matchup zone and had success doing it. Matty Ladd, who led the Lions with 12 points, started to get layups on passes from fellow forwards Ema Gardner and Keara Murphy.
Bryant said it was a simple adjustment to take it away later.
“Some of those were just rotations in the press down here,” Bryant said. “We weren’t rotating to the right spot and getting the ball and getting the buckets. They had six buckets on that in the second half right out of the chute. We had to fix that, put a little more pressure in the back court back here to keep them making those passes and getting our rotations a little better.”
After trailing by double digits at the break, Cottage Grove whittled the Marshfield lead down to three points in the fourth quarter, forcing Bryant to take a timeout with 6:35 to go.
There, he told his team to settle down, to work the ball on offense and to not foul on defense. From there, Marshfield scored 14 of the next 16 points to pull away from the Lions. Garrett had six steals in the quarter as the Lions’ lack of depth and games thus far worked in the Pirates’ advantage late.
“We didn’t shoot particularly well,” Bryant said. “We had an off-night shooting on our court. But our defense more than made up for that.”
Marshfield is off until next Tuesday, when Class 6A North Medford visits the Pirate Palace at 5:30 p.m.