COQUILLE — Coquille’s girls basketball team made sure it didn’t have any hangover from its first loss of the season, an overtime setback at top-ranked Kennedy last week.
The Red Devils dominated visiting Toledo from the opening tip in their Sunset Conference opener Thursday, scoring the first 18 points on the way to a 58-25 win over the Boomers.
The stifling Coquille defense forced several early turnovers and made things difficult when the Boomers tried to shoot the ball. Toledo finished just 7-for-49 from the floor and the Red Devils had nine blocked shots to go with their 14 steals.
Defense has been the team’s hallmark for years, including the past three when Coquille finished in the top five at the Class 3A state tournament before dropping down to Class 2A this fall.
“That’s what we work on,” Coquille senior Abbey Dieu said. “If you can’t play defense, you don’t play.”
Meanwhile, the Red Devils moved the ball well on offense, setting up open shots outside or good looks inside while finishing with 14 assists on 20 made field goals.
“I thought we shot well,” Coquille senior Halle Layton said. “And our free throws were good.”
Coquille was led on offense, as usual, by junior Morgan Baird, who had 21 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Layton had 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. Dieu contributed eight points and 10 rebounds. All three also had two blocks.
The Red Devils got contributions from everybody who played, either through their passing, their defense or their rebounding — or all three.
“We have a lot of younger kids,” Layton said. “They are working hard and developing in practice.”
“I definitely see potential with this team,” added Dieu. “We aren’t peaking yet.”
Coach Tim GeDeros said the Red Devils have made great strides since the start of the season, especially on defense, led by his niece Carlee, who has a knack for knowing where passes are headed and had three steals and disrupted a lot of what the Boomers tried to do.
“They’re all catching on,” he said. “They’ve improved so much on defense.”
But he also pointed out that Coquille was far from perfect Thursday night.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “That’s what we go over tomorrow. We want everybody to correct their mistakes.”
The most glaring issue Thursday? Boxing out, Dieu said.
“I don’t think we blocked out as well as we can,” she said, referring to 16 offensive rebounds by the Boomers.
Coquille also needs to be sharper in its half-court offense, something it will focus on throughout the league season, she said.
“I think there’s things we can improve on,” Dieu said.
Toledo entered the night with just two losses and is expected to contend for one of the two guaranteed playoff spots the Sunset Conference gets.
Kaycie Otis and Tanaya Barnhart led the team with seven points each. The Boomers didn’t get their first field goal until the opening minute of the second quarter and didn’t get over 10 points until midway through the third.
The Boomers will be back on the South Coast next Thursday to face Bandon in a game that was moved up a day.
Coquille is at Reedsport on Saturday.