FAIR HAVEN — Great teams have a way of pinpointing a problem and fixing it in short order.
The Fair Haven girls basketball team knew its defensive effort in the first half against rival Otter Valley wasn’t up to its high standard and made sure it wouldn’t be an issue once play resumed.
The Slaters locked down the Otters in the second half and pulled out a 51-33 win.
Fair Haven allowed just one field goal apiece in the third and fourth quarters.
“We talked about how we needed to clamp down defensively,” said Slaters coach Kyle Wilson. “Giving up 23 points in a half is not how we play.”
“In the second half, we weren’t getting it inside as much,” said Otter Valley coach Kelly Trayah. “When we were getting it inside and then kicking it out, we were getting better shots. In the second half, they shut that down and made us one-dimensional.”
The Otters have a way of sticking around in games they aren’t expected to be in. They get stops when they need to and can get hot shooting the ball.
Otter Valley had one of those stretches in the second quarter.
Down by six points heading into the second, the Otters scored the first four points of the quarter. Fair Haven responded with a 3, but Otter Valley wasn’t slowed down.
A slew of 3-point shots narrowed the Slater lead. Mary Kingsley started the run with a trey to cut the lead to two, and following a Fair Haven basket, Julia Eastman hit one from long range.
After getting a stop, Otter Valley came down the court and Kingsley hit another 3 for an Otter lead.
“Our close outs were a little poor in the first half, especially on their perimeter shooters,” Wilson said. “We had good feet on our close outs, but our hands were kind of down. We talked about that at halftime. Otter Valley is a pretty good team.”
Fair Haven finished the half on a 7-0 run and wouldn’t look back from there.
The Slaters used the 3-point shot to their advantage all night long, hitting 10 from long range.
Ryleigh Coloutti had seven of those herself and led Fair Haven with 23 points.
Some of her shots came from a few feet behind the arc. When shooters can hit those shots, there’s not much the defense can do.
“We did a good job of getting on Ryleigh,” Trayah said. “She was making those 3s way back. You tip your hat and say, ‘good shooting.’”
The Slaters had a ton of second-chance opportunities in the second half that helped them pull away. The normal suspects of Courtney Brewster and Kyleigh Grenier did their job on the boards to get those chances, but others stepped up in a big way.
Five-foot-4 Kerigan Disorda stood out with 11 rebounds from her point guard spot. Bench player Zoey Cole had seven boards as well.
“Kyleigh and Courtney rebound every game, but we try to preach team rebounds,” Wilson said. “Against a zone, when you can get to the offensive rebounds, they generate more opportunities.”
Brewster had 11 points for Fair Haven, while Disorda had six on a pair of 3s.
Kingsley led Otter Valley with 10 points and Livia Bernhardt had nine, seven of which came in the first quarter.
Guard Alice Keith had six points, but it was her effort in other areas that made her stand out.
The fundamentally-grounded sophomore guard stepped into passing lanes and caused four steals. She also had 10 rebounds, including a nice offensive rebound in the fourth that led to a free throw opportunity.
“(Alice) is an exceptional athlete,” Trayah said. “She’s got quick hands.”
Fair Haven improves to 16-0 and prepares for a showdown at Windsor on Wednesday.
Otter Valley drops to 5-10 and travels to Rutland on Tuesday.