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Strong defense and rebounding lifts Peotone over Reed-Custer

12/19/2013, 8:30pm CST
By Tim O'Brien

Peotone's defense dominated Reed-Custer as the Blue Devils cruised to a 46-20 win.

Peotone isn’t too interested in style points.

A win is a win after all, right?

“We play our hardest, and we’re out there to win,” Peotone sophomore Cora Graffeo said. “We try to give it our all every time out on the court. We don’t care if we look good or look bad as long as we get that ‘W.’”

Visiting Reed-Custer Thursday night in an Interstate 8 conference matchup, the Blue Devils lived up to their mantra, playing defense and rebounding their way to a 46-20 win over the host Comets.

Graffeo finished with 19 points and seven rebounds for Peotone (9-4, 4-1) with Carley Maupin scoring eight points and Rachel Koehn adding seven of her own. Six players had at least five rebounds each for the Blue Devils.

“We take the mentality ‘Defend, rebound and the offense will take care of itself,’” Peotone coach Steve Strough said. “We’ll find a way to score.”

Thursday’s way? Pound the boards, pound the boards, pound the boards. The Blue Devils shot just 11-of-33 from the field in the first half, but a persistent rebounding effort produced one second chance basket after another.

An 11-0 run in the first quarter featured five Peotone baskets, three from Graffeo and two from Maupin. Graffeo drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to start it up, with Maupin adding a long jumper on a fast break. The highlight of the run came via rebounding as Maupin scored on an offensive putback on the team’s third shot to put Peotone up 11-5.

“It’s also us reading each other to know when and where the shot goes up,” Graffeo said. “That helps us crash the boards. That’s our biggest key.”

Peotone went up 15-8 through the first quarter and took a 27-11 advantage into halftime.

Reed-Custer (4-5, 2-3) was paced by Caitlyn Welch’s nine points. The senior guard averages 25 points per game but was held to two baskets and five free throws.

“We stressed Caitlyn would be one of the best players we saw all year,” Strough said. “We wanted all five girls’ eyes on her at all times and to work for every shot she got.”

Valerie Guzman added six points in the loss for the Comets.

“You can’t simulate Peotone in practice, and they’re tough,” Reed-Custer coach Nick Klein said. “We lost two games to cancellations this week, and that hurt us. It was a good game plan on Peotone’s part.”

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