SENECA — It took two minutes for the Seneca Lady Irish's full-court press to kick into high gear during Thursday night's Interstate Eight Conference game against visiting Streator, but when it did, it was very efficient.
Seneca used its 1-2-2 formation to force the Lady Bulldogs into 13 first-quarter miscues, many leading to easy buckets, and used a 13-5 run to close out the opening eight minutes to led 20-9. The hosts increased their advantage to 37-18 at the intermission and eventually wrapped up a 59-26 victory here at Seneca High School.
Senior guard Lyda Robinson scored a game-high 14 points, including eight in the first frame, and posted five assists and four steals for Seneca, while sisters Abriana and Arberita Jashari each netted eight points each — the former grabbing a team-high six rebounds and swiping six steals. Streator was paced by freshman Natali Haynes' eight points, six caroms and two blocks, with senior Ali Talty chipping in seven points.
"Our goal was to get out to an early lead, which we did, but I felt we were actually sloppy there in the first quarter defensively at times," said Seneca coach Ted O'Boyle, his club now 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the I-8. "We felt (Streator's) ball-handling was something we could take advantage of, and at times I thought our press was good, but there were other times where we made it too easy for them to bring the ball up the floor.
"We have a couple big conference games, at Herscher and at Peotone, coming up next week, and there our some things we need to shore up before then for sure."
Seneca scored the game's first points just five seconds in, as Robinson took the opening tip straight to the hoop for a layup before Talty countered at the other end on a nifty drive in traffic. A trey from Sara Cahill and a fastbreak lay-in from Robinson preceded a turn around hook shot in the lane from Haynes to make it 7-4 in favor of the home team.
That's when the Lady Irish kicked things up a notch, as they scored the next eight points, including four from Abriana Jashari, to make it 15-4. A triple from Arberita Jashari with just over a minute to go gave Seneca an 11-point cushion after one quarter of play. The teams traded baskets in the second until the Lady Irish closed out the half on a 6-0 run, with all three hoops coming from Gillian Culbreth, to make it 37-18.
"Tonight was much better than Monday night for sure," said Streator coach Rory Bedeker, his team committing 43 turnovers in its loss to Sandwich. "I really thought we did some really nice things, especially in the first half. We moved the ball on offense and were able to knock down some shots.
"But in that third quarter we really struggled, turned the ball over and in turn gave up a lot of layups. We are a young team, and seeing a press like we did tonight I feel is only going to help us moving forward. As long as they keep giving 100 percent effort, that's all I can ask for as a coach. They will keep improving and our turnovers will become less and less as the season moves forward."
Streator (1-5, 0-2) was guilty of 13 more turnovers in the third quarter, and Seneca outscored the Lady Bulldogs 15-3 in the period, including Arberita Jashari's 30-footer at the buzzer.
"In some of these bigger games, if we get into foul trouble, we'll needed everyone to contribute," said O'Boyle, noting 13 of the 15 Lady Irish who played found the scoring column. "You never know when your number is going to get called, but you need to be ready when that happens. It was nice for a lot of the girls to get some game experience tonight, in case those situations arise.
"If we can continue to get solid contributions off the bench, especially with our depth, we'll be all right."
(KEY: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
STREATOR (26) — Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Gubbels 0-0 0-0 0, Talty 3-9 0-0 7, Aukland 1-4 0-0 2, Haynes 4-12 0-0 8, Bedeker 0-0 1-2 1, Rogers 2-8 0-0 4, C. Baker 0-1 1-2 1, Phillis 0-0 0-0 0, Depaz 0-2 1-2 1, Deleon 1-1 0-0 2, Ingram 0-0 0-2. Totals 11-39 3-8 26.
SENECA (59) — Robinson 6-12 2-2 14, Ab. Jashari 4-8 0-0 8, Greve 2-5 0-0 4, Hauch 1-4 0-2 2, Cahill 1-5 0-0 3, Logan 1-6 0-0 2, Ar. Jashari 3-7 0-2 8, Cade 0-4 0-0 0, Winsor 1-5 0-0 2, M. Baker 1-3 0-0 2, Schubert 2-2 0-0 5, Alley 1-1 0-0 2, Culbreth 3-3 0-0 6, Draves 0-2 0-0 0, Chapman 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 26-68 3-8 59.
Streator (1-5, 0-2) 9 9 3 5 — 26
Seneca (5-1, 2-0) 20 17 15 7 — 59
3-point goals — Streator 1-5 (Talty 1-2, Aukland 0-2, Rogers 0-1); Seneca 3-17 (Robinson 0-3, Ab. Jashari 0-3, Hauch 0-1, Cahill 1-1, Ar. Jashari 2-4, Cade 0-2, Winsor 0-2, Schubert 1-1). Rebounds — Streator 35 (Haynes 6); Seneca 38 (Ab. Jashari 6). Assists — Streator 5 (Aukland 2); Seneca 11 (Robinson 5). Steals — Streator 6 (Williams 3); Seneca 23 (Ab. Jashari 6, Robinson 4). Blocks — Streator 6 (Bedeker 2, Haynes 2); Seneca 1 (Hauch 1). Turnovers — Streator 39, Seneca 20. Totals fouls (none fouled out) — Streator 9, Seneca 12.