smith

Mckayla Smith of Seven Rivers Christian, front, races down court after making a steal Thursday night in Lecanto against Redeemer Christian. Smith and the Warriors won 46-26 to improve to 7-0 on the season.

LECANTO — Suffocating defense and precise offensive execution at the beginning of both halves led the Seven Rivers Christian girls basketball team to a lopsided 46-26 victory at home over Redeemer Christian on Thursday night.

The Warriors (7-0) jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game and led 17-3 at the end of the first quarter. After a sluggish second quarter resulted in a 22-10 halftime lead, Seven Rivers came out firing again in the third quarter — led by Joy Sullivan and Jassiah DeGraw — and put the game away with a 17-2 run to start the second half.

“We worked a lot on (offense) last night. It’s a new offense for us this year, so a lot of it is brand new to them,” Seven Rivers coach Gary Dreyer said. “We just want them to run the offense and not try to force the ball.

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“It’s nice to be undefeated, but I’m honestly not even thinking about that. Just play the next game and then move on to the next one. We’re not really dwelling on it.”

Sullivan said at the start of both halves, the team just played the way it is capable of.

“We just came out and played our game the way we know how to and played really well together,” she said.

After a come-from-behind 36-33 victory over the Lions on the road a month ago, this time out was much easier for the Warriors.

“For the most part, we just played good defense. Our belief is if you play good, fundamental defense, you’re going to turn the other team over,” Dreyer said. “We knew what their strategy would be from playing them before, so we just wanted to play disciplined on defense, and for the most part, we did.”

Redeemer turned the ball over their first three possession of the game, and each time the Warriors made the Lions pay. A pair of layups from Mckayla Smith and a drive to the hoop from Sullivan made it a quick 6-0 lead. DeGraw made it 9-0 moments later with her first of three 3-pointers in the game.

After the Lions finally got on the board, Sullivan buried a pair of 3-pointers and Smith scored on an offensive rebound putback, for the 17-3 lead after one.

Redeemer outscored the Warriors 7-5 in a slow-moving second quarter, but Seven Rivers got back on track to start the third.

DeGraw and Sullivan his back-to-back 3-pointers and DeGraw hit another triple moments later to make it 31-12. A DeGraw putback after an offensive rebound and a running hook shot by Sullivan helped make it a 39-19 lead entering the final period. Sullivan scored the final of her game-high 18 points on a scoop shot layup early in the fourth. Of her four 3-pointers, all were made near the top of the key with little pressure from the Redeemer defense.

“Last time we played they gave me some open looks, so I came into tonight thinking they would give me more open looks,” she said.

Sullivan had 7 assists and 6 rebounds to go with her 18 points, DeGraw had 11 points and 8 rebounds and Smith added 12 points, 9 rebounds and 6 steals.

“Joy’s an excelent ball player. We have some really good ball players,” Dreyer said. “Joy took advantage of the opportunites she had and she’s so steady. We can pretty much count on her every game to give us the same thing. She had a really nice game tonight.”

Starters scored all but five points for the Warriors, but Dreyer was very pleased with contributions off the bench.

“The bench players did a nice job playing disciplined and giving our starters a breather,” he said.

Eliana Reed led Redeemer (4-4) with 8 points.

The Warriors look to stay on a roll tonight when they host Ocala Christian Academy.

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Contact Chronicle Sports Editor Matt Pfiffner at 352-564-2989 or mpfiffner@chronicleonline.com.

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