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Pogi, Lady Broncos’ defense turn back Stillwater in 2nd half

Talia Pogi brings the ball down the court for the Mustang Lady Broncos in a recent game against Southmoore. Pogi, a sophomore, scored 25 points against Stillwater on Friday. Photo / Ron Lane

STILLWATER — Mustang’s Lady Broncos have struggled this season acclimating themselves to the new offensive and defensive system of first-year coach Katie Bass.
But in recent games, Mustang’s young ballclub has shown a much better understanding of the strategies Bass wants them to utilize.
The Lady Broncos, ignited by their defense and Talia Pogi’s season-high 25 points, cruised to a 57-33 win over Stillwater’s Pioneers last Friday night before a crowd of about 1,000 at the Stillwater High School Fieldhouse.
“We’re jelling pretty well,” said Pogi, a 5-foot-8 sophomore and returning starter. “We started off a little rough because we were getting used to the new system. But we’re feeling pretty comfortable now.”
Mustang (3-4) led 27-14 at halftime. But the Pioneers (2-4) outscored MHS 10-3 in the first four minutes of the third quarter to draw within 30-24, prompting a timeout by Bass.
The Lady Broncos’ defense then turned up the pressure, forcing five turnovers and outscoring Stillwater 13-0 the rest of the quarter.
Pogi had two treys and a free throw in the spurt.
What changed?
“We changed our defense to man,” said Bass, who earlier had used a combination of man and 2-3 zone.
A turnaround jumper by Kyra Misuraca and two free throws by Pogi boosted the lead to 47-24 with 6:56 left in the fourth quarter, capping 15 unanswered points by MHS.
Stillwater’s scoring drought reached just over five minutes as Pogi and the Lady Broncos turned it into a rout.
A rebound shot by Jordyn Rollins pushed the lead to its largest, 55-29, with 4:01 left.
Pogi, who also is transitioning from a shooting guard to point guard, scored 12 points in the second half when she hit three of her five 3-pointers.
But it was Pogi’s teammates who were finding her open, an indication Mustang is running its offense better.
“The shots I get are because of my teammates,” said Pogi, who is the team’s leading scorer with 12.6 per game. “And I’ve gotten more confident in myself.”
Bass has been pleased by how Pogi is adapting to her new role as the team’s
primary ballhandler and floor leader.
“She has handled that beautifully and is passing the ball better,” said Bass, adding that Pogi’s defense is improving, too.
Pogi thinks the team’s man-to-man defense is beginning to make a difference.
“I think our man defense is coming together,” Pogi said. “If one of their players gets open off the dribble, we’re sliding over and taking charges or helping out.”
The Lady Broncos have held three opponents below 34 points and even shut out Southmoore in the second quarter of a 74-17 victory Dec. 17.
Misuraca, a 6-3 senior post, added 12 points and freshman guard Jordyn Rollins scored 10.
Claudia Vanzant and Makayla Medrano each tallied 10 points for Stillwater.

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