For the Aberdeen Bobcats, it was the perfect way to tip-off the season.
Aberdeen erupted for 15-straight points after the opening whistle en route to a 61-35 win over Elma on Tuesday at Sam Benn Gym in Aberdeen.
Using an aggressive press defense, the Bobcats (1-0 overall) created multiple turnovers and easy transition buckets against a depleted Eagles team.
The Bobcats took a 15-0 lead after senior guard/forward Maddie Gore scored five-straight points on a 3-point play followed by a coast-to-coast layup with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
Elma guard Mia Monroe broke the run with a layup and made it a 15-4 game by hitting a jumper at the 3:28 mark.
That was all the Eagles offense could muster in the first quarter as the Bobcats — utilizing full-court pressing and trapping defenses — closed the quarter on a 7-0 run, taking a 22-4 lead when a steal by junior guard Annie Troeh led to a short jump shot by fellow junior Jaylynn Phimmasone.
“We’re trying to really up the tempo and be a pressing, chaotic team,” Aberdeen head coach Rachel Wenzel said of the first-quarter blitz. “I thought that performance was outstanding. It was exactly what I wanted. We are good when we are up-tempo and in their face.”
Aberdeen scored the first six points of the second quarter — including layups from Gore and Phimmasone — before Elma began to settle into the game.
The Eagles — playing with mostly a junior-varsity lineup, started to handle the pressure enough to run its offense, finding some success from range.
Elma outscored Aberdeen 15-12 in the second quarter, with all 15 points coming on five 3-pointers. Eagles junior guard Aaleigha Weld hit three shots from beyond the arc in the frame, drilling her final triple of the first half with just 12 second left to go in the second quarter, trimming Aberdeen’s lead to 34-19 at the break.
Weld hit a baseline jumper to open the third quarter, but Aberdeen responded with a 9-0 run, taking a 43-21 lead on an offensive rebound and leaning bank shot in the paint from Annie Troeh with 4:25 on the clock.
A Gore offensive rebound and putback gave the Bobcats a comfortable 49-31 lead at the end of the third, all but putting the game out of reach for the undermanned Eagles.
Elma scored the first bucket of the fourth when Monroe hit a layup off a Weld steal and assist, but the Cats responded with another long run.
Aberdeen scored the next 10 points — six straight by junior guard Zoe Troeh — to go up 59-33 with 2:23 left in the game.
Zoe Troeh would score on a layup in the game’s waning moments to round out the scoring.
“Aberdeen dominated the boards tonight and did a great job of running the floor, offensively,” Elma head coach Brandi Henry said.
Gore led all scorers with 24 points.
Zoe Troeh (12 points), Annie Troeh (9 pts.) and Phimmasone (8 pts.) also scored multiple baskets for the Bobcats.
“We’ve been working on transitions and pushing the ball up, and that’s what we were doing throughout the game,” said Gore, who addressed the possiblity of the dreaded first-game jitters. “Most of the girls were nervous and we’ve been talking about game day, but we played really good and we worked good together and ran our plays.”
Elma was led by Monroe and Weld, each scoring 12 points in the game.
Recent illnesses that typically run their courses through schools this time of year took a toll on both teams.
Aberdeen was without the services of seniors Marina Marll and Andrea Meraz and sophomore Abby Mainio on Tuesday, but that fell far short from what the Eagles were dealing with.
Elma played with primarily a junior varsity roster as several of its players were unavailable, mostly due to recent illnesses keeping many of its athletes from completing the necessary 10 practices needed to be cleared by the WIAA for competition.
Elma entered the game with just three varsity starters — Weld, Monroe and guard Emmie Spencer — available at tip-off.
Henry said the non-league matchup provided some great experience for her younger players.
“It was a great opportunity for some of our younger players to step up and get some varsity minutes,” she said.
“It was just an outstanding effort by both teams for coming out of a rough Thanksgiving week with illness,” Wenzel said.
Aberdeen will host Hoquiam in a Myrtle Street Rivalry game at 7 p.m. on Thursday.