Cougars’ ‘five good players’ lead way to Div. III crown
MANNHEIM, Germany — In the end, European Division III basketball tournament MVP Nicole Lassetter of London Central was outnumbered.
“I had five good players,” Ansbach coach Mick Plummer said after his Cougars manhandled the London Central Bobcats 51-31 Friday night in the girls championship game.
“None of us [in the Division III small schools] has any depth, and playing four games in two days tends to wear you out,” Plummer said. “Lassetter is a great player, but she got a little tired near the end and there was no one else for them to turn to.”
Lassetter — who scored 39 points in a 55-53 overtime semifinal victory earlier Friday over defending Division III champ Baumholder and 31 in a 42-39 loss to Ansbach on Thursday — scored 24 points in the finale but could not single-handedly stop Plummer’s “five good players”: Brittney Britton, Nadia Freeman, Alison Hazen, Keke Johnson and Zee Watson.
Taking a 36-25 lead into the fourth quarter, the Cougars gave the Bobcats one shot per possession and pulled down nine defensive rebounds. The score was 47-28 before London Central grabbed the first of its three offensive rebounds in the final eight minutes.
“We’re small,” Britton said, “so we have to be really aggressive on rebounds. We work hard to box out.”
Key to the fourth-quarter effort was Hazen, who grabbed four of her eight rebounds in the quarter.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Hazen said of the grueling nature of rebounding. “You’ve got to keep working.”
Britton, who scored nine points, led all of Ansbach’s rebounders with nine. Freeman and Johnson each added six. All three of them ended up on the all-tournament team.
Johnson scored a team-high 17 points and had four steals. Watson added eight points.
Ansbach led 21-17 at halftime, but Plummer knew how to widen the margin.
“In the first half, we were living on our outside shot,” he said. “We’d take the shot and watch it. At halftime, we talked about going to the basket. Once we started penetrating, we got back to our game.”
The Cougers capped a perfect season against Division III competition. They lost to Division I powerhouses Heidelberg and Ramstein.
“We were lucky to open the year against Heidelberg and Ramstein,” Plummer said. “Even though we lost, it showed us what we needed to do to be a champion. Since then, we’re 18-0.
“I truly believe I have the best five players,” Plummer said of his starters, who played almost every minute of the four games the Cougars won here Thursday and Friday. “Because of that, the other teams can’t decide to work our left side or work our right side. We’re solid everywhere.”