There were plenty of close-range shots that wouldn’t fall for Badin High School’s girls basketball team Wednesday night, but the Rams’ defense was in fine form.
Badin’s pressure led to 27.3-percent shooting by host Talawanda as the Rams rolled to a 54-32 victory, ending a six-game losing streak in the Butler County rivalry series.
“Our coaches let us know that before we came in,” Badin junior guard Grace Larkin said of being winless against the Braves since Dec. 29, 2010. “It was a really big deal. A lot of these girls knew the girls on the team, so it was kind of like playing your friends, and you want to beat your friends.”
Shelby Nusbaum (16 points, 10 rebounds), Emma Broermann (11 points, eight rebounds) and Claire McCurley (10 points, six rebounds) led the Rams, who improved to 2-0 after opening with a 50-39 win over Preble Shawnee.
Badin shot out to a 17-4 lead in the first quarter and was never seriously challenged, though Talawanda (1-1) did fight back to close the gap to 24-17 at halftime.
“Credit to Talawanda,” Rams coach Tom Sunderman said. “They’re not very deep, but their guards play extremely hard, which made it difficult for us.
“I was a little surprised they played man against us. I thought we handled it very well early, then we went through a little rut where we missed some easy shots inside. And it wasn’t just our posts — it was our guards too. We’ve got to make those shots.”
Sunderman said Badin’s post feeds and shooting improved in the second half, and the Rams kicked off the third quarter with nine straight points to pull away.
“I thought our girls played really hard and showed a lot of heart,” Braves coach Tom Head said. “I thought there were two keys coming into the game. The first one was to get off to a good start. We’re not really a team that’s equipped to come back from a bigger deficit, and we started the game down 17-4. The second key was trying to box out their big girls.
“We wanted to take away the inside game and see what happens outside. We played a real soft man-to-man defense to start the game and kept a couple people in the paint and pretty much stopped the inside game, and they hit the outside shots. In the second half, we were down enough that I had to bring the girls out, and then the inside game took over. It’s just hard to stop both.
“I know it was a 20-point loss, but I thought we competed with them. Sometimes you go down 20 in the second quarter and the other team coasts. I got the impression they were playing us the whole time.”
Addie Brown paced Talawanda with 14 points, but was just 5 of 20 from the floor. Larkin was her primary defender, with some help from Emily Maher.
“Grace played phenomenal on her,” Sunderman said. “She’s our stopper. She’s smart and long and quick.”
Larkin said she works hard to be a defensive nuisance.
“I’m obviously not one of the best scorers right now, so I take pride in my defense,” said Larkin, who wasn’t feeling well early in the game and had to leave the gym for several minutes in the third period to take care of an upset stomach. “I like being the person who gets to frustrate others.”
Broermann tallied nine second-half points after three fouls minimized her playing time in the opening two quarters. Maher scored six points and Larkin added five, and Anna Cantwell and Macy Harper chipped in five boards apiece.
Badin will continue nonconference play Saturday night when 3-0 McAuley comes to Mulcahey Gym.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Sunderman said. “We’re still trying to feel our way through roles.”
“We definitely have a lot to grow from. We’re still just starting out,” Larkin said. “We’re still doing some stupid stuff, missing easy things that I think at the end of the year we will start to make. We’re definitely not even near our potential, so we’ve got a big future this year.”
The Braves, who got six points and five boards from Susie Bennison and five points, four boards and three steals from Jazz Bennett, will travel to Eaton on Dec. 7.
“Three weeks ago, we were kind of a hot mess,” Head said. “If we improve as much in the next three weeks as we have in the last three weeks, we’re going to end up being better than I thought.”
BADIN (2-0): Shelby Nusbaum 6 3 16, Grace Larkin 2 0 5, Macy Harper 1 0 3, Emma Broermann 4 3 11, Claire McCurley 3 4 10, Emily Maher 2 1 6, Jaelynn Scowden 1 0 3. Totals: 19-11-54
TALAWANDA (1-1): Kyra Koontz 1 2 4, Addie Brown 5 2 14, Jazz Bennett 2 1 5, Susie Bennison 3 0 6, Mikaela Bretz 1 1 3. Totals: 12-6-32
3-pointers: B 5 (Nusbaum, Maher, Larkin, Scowden, Harper), T 2 (Brown 2)