BATON ROUGE – It was hard to tell whether the Denham Springs Lady Jackets basketball team was more excited about its latest victory or having the next day off.
The latter, which was delivered from first-year coach Blake Zito, was met with a resounding round of applause.
“I’ve taken over two programs in the last two years and kind of have a measuring stick to see how far we are,” Denham Springs coach Blake Zito said. “Just how much we’re gaining and right now we’re ahead of the curve more than I’ve ever been.”
Denham Springs turned a five-point halftime lead into a runaway victory, riding a dominating second-half performance to a 33-13 win Monday over Glen Oaks in the Broadmoor High Summer Basketball League.
The Lady Yellow Jackets conclude league play at 3:50 p.m., Wednesday against Brusly.
“A lot of that (growth) has to with where I picked them up because (former Denham Springs coach) Shelly (LaPrarie) did such a good job with fundamental stuff,” Zito said. “Now I’m implementing my stuff. It’s come along even further. I’m really excited about what we can do when the season starts.”
There were four lead changes in the game’s first 10 minutes with a pair of free throws from Desiree Jones giving Denham Springs the lead for good at 10-9 to start the second quarter.
Forward Katherine Thompson pulled up for a 15-foot jump shot, started a fastbreak with a block and rebound that led to Carly Cruise’s 15-footer followed by Trenishia Muse’s putback for a 16-11 halftime lead.
“You try to stress things in summer league that can carry over into the season,” Zito said. “The one thing we talked about was not letting the ball go through the net dictate our effort. When you’re not scoring, that’s the time when things are most important.
“We weren’t doing the little things,” Zito said. “We weren’t finishing, missed a couple of easy looks underneath. We missed a couple of passes and that frustration led to us not doing the little things right. In the second half we got it together and started doing the little things right. I was actually happy that when we started scoring we remained even keel. We just have to make sure we do the little things.”
Muse scored 6 of her team-high 9 points during a 13-0 third-quarter blitz, including back-to-back baseline jumpers in the third first three minutes of play that led to a 21-11 lead.
Senior forward Jala Robinson made her summer debut, coming off an ankle injury to contribute two baskets with a lay-in triggered by steal and save from Thompson that led to a fastbreak.
Thompson, who led the Lady Jackets with 10 rebounds and 6 points, finished a difficult drive she banked in with her left hand and a pair of free throws from Muse made it 29-11 after three quarters.
DSHS’ stretch of unanswered points reached 15 when Robinson took a pass from Jones and finished with a lay-in for a commanding 31-11 advantage.
Glen Oaks went 17 minutes without a field goal – missing 15 consecutive shots – until a driving lay-in with 2:51 remaining. The Lady Panthers only made 5 of 38 field goal attempts for 13 percent and turned the ball over 10 times.
“It’s been a very successful summer for us,” Zito said. “Scores matter and you’re trying to win every game. I think the kids have come together. The chemistry has been drastically improved. We’re learning the offense and defense. It’s been a huge step in the right direction.”