Defense keys Harriton girls’ basketball team’s fast start

From the first day Messiah Reames was named head coach of the Harriton girls’ basketball program, his message has been simple: Offense sells tickets and Defense wins games.

With that mindset, it’s no coincidence the Rams are off to a 3-1 start that has included wins over West Chester East, Haverford and most recently Strath Haven. In their three wins, Harriton has held their opponents to an average of just 23.3 points per game.

“I told the team that games will be won or lost on the defensive side of the ball,” said Reames. “I have been very proud of their effort to date. The team knows the expectations and they have done a great job of boxing out, rebounding and playing solid defense.”

Senior Haley Morris said, “The coaches only want players who want to be here and are willing to buy into their philosophy. It sifts out many people but in the end it brings the team closer together.”

The latest example of grit and determination came at Strath Haven on Dec. 11 when they limited the Panthers offensively by dictating the tempo and controlling the boards.

Knowing Katie Fisher was a dangerous player, Reames disguised a box and one with Haley Morris handling most of the defensive coverage but getting help from her teammates including Sophie Grady and Olivia Tevis when Fisher tried to drive the lane.

“The coaching staff does a good job of identifying the other team’s best player and Katie (Fisher) is a really good player,” said Morris. “The coaches told me to focus on defending her and the rest will fall into place.”

Morris added, “I have never really been a scorer in any sport I play so the only way I know I will get on the court is if I play defense, I sort of adapted my game realizing that is the only way I will play. I actually love stopping someone more than scoring.”

“To have a player like Haley who understands her role and never varies from her role is important,” said Reames. “It’s a complement to her upbringing, her attitude and her willingness to be coached.”

While Morris was doing the job on the perimeter, sophomore Greta Stahl controlled the paint scoring a team-high 15 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and adding six blocks.

“Greta from the first day bought into the coaches philosophy,” said Morris. “She has worked hard and has gotten better from last year. She is going to have a great year.”

Reames added, “This just shows the hard work Greta has put in is paying off. She is a gifted and talented who works harder than her talent which says a lot. Her work ethic is through the roof and she deserves a lot of credit.”

With the heart of the Central League quickly approaching and many tough games in front of them a relatively young team has gained valuable experience due to senior leaders – Morris, Tevis and twin sisters Sophie and Gabrielle Kontra – along with Grady who has helped the underclassmen adapt.

“Having players like Haley, Liv and Sophia and Gabriella Kontra have been key,” said Reames. “They know what we expect and demand and before I walk into the gym for practice they have everyone ready to play.”

“The seniors have been very important,” said Stahl. “Last year as a freshman I had no idea what to expect or how hard practice was. Haley and the other upperclassmen have pushed me so hard and helped me improve. The coaching staff has also played an important role in making me the player I am. They have changed my life and have given me so much confidence.”







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