Junior Ashley Adams quickly has become a fan of the Prospect girls basketball team's more fast-paced offense this season.
"I love it," said the 5-foot-8 Adams, a key reserve last season. "I play post but I'm not the tallest person out there so it's a lot easier when we push the ball in transition. I have the opportunity to get inside before all of the tall girls get there."
In Monday's season opener Adams started and scored a varsity-best 18 points as the Knights rolled to a 71-34 victory over St. Francis in the first round of the annual York Thanksgiving Tournament.
Prospect senior guard and Alabama-Birmingham signee Emily Frasco led all players with 20 points, including three 3-pointers, along with 4 steals, 3 assists and 4 blocked shots. Senior reserve Sara Biesterfeldt added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Evans also had 9 rebounds.
Senior Christine Fasana had 10 points for St. Francis, which played without injured fourth-year starter Antwainette Walker, an Arkansas-Little Rock recruit.
Sparked by a 14-0 run over 3:13, Prospect led 21-8 after the first quarter. The Knights, who were ahead 40-23 by halftime, usually scored in the high-40s to low-50s last season.
"That's kind of our goal, to get the ball out quick and push the tempo and then hopefully keep that intensity on the defensive side and force some turnovers," Prospect coach Gabrielle Lovin said.
"Seventy-one points our first game is something to look forward to developing and being a little more consistent. We shared the ball well, we pushed the tempo and that's something we can build on from today's game."
Adams and Frasco only played the first three quarters. Adams opened with 12 first-quarter points on 6-for-6 shooting with an array of inside shots off teammates' passes, putbacks and short perimeter shots. Adams had 16 points by halftime.
"I managed to get them all in. The defense left me open a lot so that helped," Adams said. "(Our start) really brought the momentum up. Once we get a few in, our team gets really excited and we work together better."
Frasco nailed a 3 on the game's first possession in fewer than 10 seconds but mostly contributed during her 12-point first half with steals, assists and blocks. Her other 3s came during her 8-point scoring spree within the first 1:24 of the second half.
"We push the ball a lot more this year. We're a lot faster, we're smaller so it's easier to get down the court," Frasco said.
"It's great. It's a lot different. If I'm down there I know they'll give me the ball and if I see Ashley down there, it's easy to dish it off to her or one of the (Kowalczyk) twins or Margherite (Pettenuzzo)."
The Spartans graduated several seniors. Like last year, they still enjoy the fast-tempo game and again are awaiting for a key senior to return at the beginning of the season.
Walker was hurt while playing with her Illinois Rockets AAU team. Walker said she has been cleared to return and is hoping to play by next week. Walker spent most of Monday's game standing behind the bench encouraging her teammates.
"It was really hard (watching). I was screaming my head off," Walker said. "I was trying to get the girls to keep going, keep pushing. I know we were down 15, 20 points, but we couldn't give up. They didn't give up."
Senior Shelby Winkelman had 6 points on two 3s and Kate Chaparro and Grace Carragher each had 5. Megan DeRaizo had 7 rebounds.
"It was pretty hard (without Walker) because she's always that body that you look for. She can do anything. I play with her in summer league so it's different," said St. Francis junior guard Cece Kenney, who started in her varsity debut. "(Varsity) was a different type of girls, different type of energy. The intensity went up really high. It was a whole different scenery than last year."
Adams and Frasco are very encouraged about their team's chances this season.
"Obviously the score shows that we managed to work pretty well together," Adams said. "We want to tighten up our defense because we were weak on box outs and covering our girl, but on offense we found the right girl and spaced it out."