Eudora Veritas Christian’s Shereen Fattaahi has a rather simple formula for frustrating the heck out of her opponents. In fact, it’s her favorite part of the game.
“I love guarding people,” the junior guard said. “I’ve always been like that. I like offense, too, but I love intimidating people, putting pressure on them and creating turnovers.”
The Eagles’ defense, which appeared in the form of a swarming full-court press to start the game, dominated in a 40-12 rout of Northland Christian on Friday in the Eudora Community Center.
Veritas created 12 turnovers in the first quarter alone, and 24 for the game.
The forced turnovers helped the opportunistic Eagles (1-0) jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. They played such good defense that the visiting Blazers had trouble simply getting off a shot for the first few possessions.
“The team we want to be is a team that pressures full-court and tries to get the ball up and down the floor,” Veritas girls coach Kevin Shelton said. “That’s how we wanted to start the game. It was very important for us to get off positively with strong pressure. That’s who we’re going to have to be this year.”
Fattaahi benefited from several steals and finished with 10 points (4-of-6 shooting). She converted her first three shots — all layups that were a product of sound defense.
“It was very important to get that 14-0 lead,” she said. “That kind of got our attitudes up and we were ready to go from there.”
Sophomore forward Ellen Phillips led the Eagles with 11 points. She likely could have had more, but sat on the bench for the majority of the second half with Veritas nursing a comfortable lead.
“We were nervous at first, but we played it off really well,” Phillips said. “We were excited. We wanted to full-court press because that’s where we felt we should be. We dropped back after awhile. But it worked, so we’re probably going to use it later on.”
Phillips, who stands 5-foot-10, was a difficult matchup for the Blazers. She routinely found position in the post, where she was able to score off of crisp passes from alert teammates.
“Ellen will play a major role inside for us this year,” Shelton said. “We’re probably going to live and die by her inside, and hopefully we can keep having good things from her. I thought she played a strong game.”
Madison Bennett had an impressive Veritas debut, particularly from the free-throw stripe. The freshman scored nine points and went 7-of-8 from the line.
The Eagles will face Burrton in the Goessel Classic at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
Northland Christian boys 47, Veritas 25
The Veritas boys basketball team ran into a difficult first test for its season opener Friday night: a polished and talented 4-1 Northland Christian squad, which only turned the ball over nine times.
“The first game, you learn a lot. And that was a tough first game for us,” Veritas coach Gary Hammer said. “We need to work on better rebounding. We have to be careful about our fouling, going over the back. We’re not a really deep team, so I can’t get these guys in foul trouble. But they’re trying hard, and I liked their effort.”
Veritas kept it close at the beginning and led, 5-2, early in the first quarter.
It wouldn’t last long.
The Blazers went on a 16-5 run and had a sizable lead, 28-14, at halftime. Northland Christian sealed it with a 12-2 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Veritas sophomore Elijah Penny led the Eagles with 11 points. He was the only Veritas player in double digits.
“I don’t think we’re going to have one key guy that’s going to lead us in points every night,” Hammer said. “I really bet that it’s going to be different every night. But I do think Elijah will be one that I would expect a number of points and rebounds. I don’t care who it is. As long as we can have somebody that’s consistent.”
Veritas (0-1) will face Burrton in the Goessel Classic at 6 p.m. on Monday.
“We’re a young team,” Hammer said. “We don’t have any seniors. We’re going to gain experience as the season goes on. We’ll get better.”