Fuoco blue devils feed on defensive pressure – sports – the ledger – lakeland, fl chicken easy meals

Winter haven coach johnnie lawson doesn’t have to watch basketball video to gain inspiration for the defensive style his no. 1-ranked blue devils girls team employs. Their non-stop, aggressive, full-court pressure defense reminds him of one thing.

“this is crazy, but I watch wild dogs all the time,” he said. “I watch how they interact with each other, and I know it’s crazy but that’s how I work our defense — a pack of wild dogs, and we just chase you. You’re going to run for a long time, but after awhile, your legs are going to get tired and we’re going to still be running and we’ll start eating you whole.”

Winter haven was chasing tallahassee lincoln all over the court in its 54-28 victory friday afternoon, and devoured the trojans.Winter haven it really was never a game. The blue devils set the tone and if they weren’t at their best from the start and into the third quarter, it was pretty close to their best.


After diamond battles scored then immediately stole the ball and turned it into a layup to make it 10-0, the only question left was when would the blue devils make it a running clock. At the end of the first quarter, they led by 12 points and no, it wasn’t that close.

A state semifinal game isn’t supposed to be this easy. Tell that to the blue devils. At times, winter haven appeared to be toying with lincoln.

In the third quarter, melijah sullivan chased down an overthrown long pass just before it went out of bounds with a defender on her back.Blue devils she blindly passed the ball back to zakiyah franklin, who instead of shooting with the defender now on her, quickly passed back to sullivan for the layup to push their lead up 30 points.

Winter haven finished with 13 steals, forced 20 turnovers and had seven blocks, but lincoln actually surpassed winter haven in all three categories. Where winter haven’s wild dog style had its most benefit was in how poorly lincoln shot. The blue devils forced the trojans to rush their shots, and lincoln ended up shooting just 16 percent. When you’re being outrebounded by nearly a 2-1 margin — the blue devils held a 48-27 advantage on the boards — it’s a recipe for a blowout.

Winter haven had established its reputation under ledawn gibson as a defensive force and continued it under lawson.Diamond battles the blue devils upped the ante in that regard when billy washington, who led lake wales to a boys state title, joined lawson’s staff.

"Defense wins ballgames, and coach billy, his defense feeds our offense," senior center tyia singleton said. "We feel like without the defense, our offense wouldn’t be as successful."

The blue devils’ defense starts with diamond battles, who had all of her six steals in the first half and also had two blocks and seven rebounds. She provided the emotional energy that her teammates can feed off, and the ball movement — she had six of the team’s 15 assists. While winter haven was moving the ball to gain easy layups, shooting 47 percent from the field, lincoln was rushing their shots.Blue devils

“they’re girls,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been coaching girls for 22 years. All my life, I can never read what they’re going to do. But I do know how hard they’re going to work. But then that’s crazy, because they don’t have a choice. You’re going to work hard.”

Yet nothing is done. The blue devils need one more game for the three-peat, and if they win, they’re a heavy favorite to be the team selected from florida to play in the national tournament in new york later this month.