BATH — Greg Mauk was in a pretty good mood Tuesday night.
The Bath girls basketball coach had plenty of reason to be happy, considering his Wildkittens had just taken apart a very good Versailles team 57-37 in a nonleague game at Bath High School.
The win kept Bath unbeaten at 6-0 while Versailles fell to 7-2.
“That’s probably as well as we’ve played,” Mauk said. “I still think the season is young, I don’t think it’s an end-game situation for us. But I thought we did things as well as we’ve done them to this point in the season.”
Bath guard Alyssa Manley led all scorers with 21 points, hitting four 3-pointers, while the Wildkittens’ defense was smothering.
Bath’s swarming defense forced 20 turnovers and never let Versailles’ offense get into much of a rhythm.
“They’re a very good team, and we just executed well and did what we needed to do on offense and defense and kept the pressure up,” Manley said. “We just tried to play tight on D. It’s the best game we’ve played on defense all year. We just tried to play up on them and be very energetic.”
Where the Wildkittens’ pressure especially hurt Versailles was that the Tigers couldn’t feed their post duo of 6-foot-2 Christa Puthoff and 6-foot Katie Heckman. Heckman finished with 11 points while Puthoff had 10. Versailles had no other scorers reach double-digits.
Versailles made just 16-of-41 field goals for the game (39 percent) to Bath’s 23-of-50 shooting (46 percent).
“We had kind of lost our focus in terms of how we wanted to play defense, we talked about that being our focal point, getting up and pressuring full court,” Mauk said. “That was the difference in the game. I thought it made our offense easier, made our open shots easier. When you’re playing defense it makes a lot of things easier.
“(Puthoff) is one of the more skilled post players that I’ve ever seen. She’s big and she’s a finisher. I was really impressed, I thought our kids did a good job against her. I thought the pace of the game helped us defensively.”
Bath’s post duo of Bri Smith and Danielle VanDyne each turned in strong efforts against the Versailles’ duo underneath. Smith finished with 11 points while VanDyne had eight points and five rebounds. Both teams had 22 rebounds.
Manley made her outside shooting presence felt early when she sunk a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. Still, Bath held just a 9-8 lead with 4:20 remaining in the period.
But that’s when the defense began to heat up.
The Wildkittens forced five straight turnovers to key a 9-2 run for an 18-10 lead after one quarter. That hot streak kept up in the second when Bath outscored Versailles 11-5 for a 29-15 lead at halftime.
One of the big keys throughout the game for Mauk was the Wildkittens showed off their depth.
“I like that fact that we’re deep,” Mauk said. “We went nine deep today. They’ve got a focus and a purpose of what we’re trying to do, and they’re all trying to stay on the same page in terms of doing that.
“A lot of times you get nine players and then you get all times of different personalities going. I really think this team is trying to grow together as a team, and that’s the thing I like right now. That’s what helped our defense. They were trying to get to different areas on the floor where they can help their teammates.”