Not a lot of high school kids like to play defense.
Coaches have to harp and yell and remind their players to play it at least a dozen times a game.
Lexington Catholic Coach Tony Talbott had to do a little of that, but his team figured out a little secret in a 73-67 win over Conner on Saturday in the Republic Bank Classic.
"It's fun playing defense when you can turn it into offense," freshman Octavia Wilson said, smiling.
The Knights' defense stole the ball 27 times and forced the Cougars, who had a three-overtime game the night before, into 37 turnovers.
Catholic, which advances to the quarterfinals of its own tournament, scored 33 points off of those mistakes.
"It was one of our better defensive days," said Wilson, who had 19 points and four steals. "We played really well and rotated over and talked on defense."
Thanks to all of the steals and 20 offensive rebounds (to seven for Conner), Catholic got 32 more shot attempts than the Cougars.
Talbott was most pleased to see the Knights buying in to the team concept on both ends of the floor.
"We got a little bit of everything from everybody," he said. "That's a good thing. We've been on them lately about moving the ball and looking for the open man, and they're finally getting it."
He pointed to balanced scoring, with four players in double digits. Alex Botkin had 15 points and eight rebounds. Anna Gayle Scott and Jill Maronde added 11 points each.
Lexi Mullikin came off the bench to get a game-high six steals. Maronde and Cassie Williams, also reserves, added five swipes apiece.
"They're doing a great job of anticipating," Talbott said. "We're taking advantage of mismatches and using our quick hands. I've really been proud of this team."
The Cougars kept it close throughout with their three-point shooting (10-for-20).
Toria Fischer led the way with 26 points (including five three-pointers). In her two tournament games so far, the junior has 57 points and 11 three-pointers.
One team pulled out of the event because of bad weather, and another was forced to move its game from Friday to Saturday, which will cause some game times and teams to reshuffle. The revised schedule has not been released yet.
No. 4 Sacred Heart 64, No. 7 Bowling Green 61: The Valkyries lost two stars before the season even started, but they're finding new go-to players.
In the first round, against a fellow top-10 team in Bowling Green, SHA (4-1) had four players finish with nine or more points. Monica McGreal lead the way with 18 points. Morgan Clemons added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The Purples (3-1) were led by Zoe Sibalich's 14 points and four boards.
No. 11 Bullitt East 64, No. 23 Webster County 53: Kayla Thacker didn't have her best shooting night (4-for-10), but she managed 20 points and six rebounds to lead the Chargers.
Bullitt pulled ahead in the second half by making all four three-pointers it attempted. Stephanie Householder paced Webster with 15 points.
Wayne County 59, Madisonville 57: Jessica Hardin hit a three-pointer with four seconds left to help the Cardinals get their second win of the year. The game featured 28 lead changes.
Hardin had 16 points and six rebounds. Kayla Bowlin led the way with 22 points.
Tayla Foster had a game-high 26 points for the Maroons, who fell for the first time this season.
No. 1 Marion County 73, Ryle 47: The top-ranked Knights led by as many as 27 points late and never trailed against Ryle. Kyvin Goodin-Rogers led the way with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Fellow freshman Makayla Epps added 16 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Highlands 65, Owensboro Catholic 58: The Bluebirds got 26 points from Katie Allen and 24 points from Bekah Towles in the win. Allen also had five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Freshman Becca Greenwell, who already has offers from top Division I schools, did her best to help the Aces, scoring a game-high 33 points, grabbing 18 rebounds, dishing out seven assists and adding three blocks.
South Laurel 73, Grayson County 64 (OT): The Cardinals stayed unbeaten, but they needed overtime to do it. Four players finished in double figures for South Laurel, which was led by Jessica Dean's 22 points.
The Cougars, led by Alex Crowe's 19 points, were held to 10 percent shooting in the extra period.
No. 3 Louisville Christian 40, No. 12 Clay County 31: Louisville signee Antonita Slaughter had a game-high 13 points and six rebounds to lead Louisville Christian (6-0), which never trailed.
Alicia Mitchell led Clay County (4-3) with 10 points.
St. Joseph (W.Va.) 70, No. 22 Nelson County 65: Michigan State commitment Samantha Drake led all players with 29 points and 15 rebounds, but it wasn't enough for Nelson County (5-3). St. Joseph (W.Va.) stormed to a 24-8 lead and stayed in front the rest of the way, shooting 53 percent for the game.