And while putting the ball in the basket makes the headlines, it is defense that is usually the difference maker.
Crestwood girls basketball coach Jim Haylett has tried to instill in his young team the importance of getting a hand in someone's face, denying the ball inside and boxing out. In the early going of this season, his Red Devils seem to be getting the point.
"I think our defense is better; all five of them, together, are now starting to play defense," he said.
Sparked by the quick hands of junior Emily Musil, the Red Devils forced an abundance of Field turnovers Monday and squeaked by the Falcons 43-39 in the Portage County League opener for both teams.
"I had four people that started out there that never played in a varsity game other than our (season) opener," said Haylett. "You have to give them some credit for really playing some defense."
Despite a rash of mistakes that helped the Falcons dig themselves a 12-point hole early in the second half, Field rallied nicely and, after several failed attempts, eventually tied the score at 39 on an Ebony King floater in the lane with 42 seconds left in the game.
But the Red Devils (2-0, 1-0 PCL) quickly passed the ball down the floor in transition, and it was sophomore Sara Lewis laying in the winning basket with 35 seconds left.
Field then missed a game-tying jumper from the left wing and Crestwood grabbed the rebound. Following two Field fouls, Musil sank a pair of free throws with 10 seconds showing to ice the game.
The 5-foot-9 Musil led everybody with 18 points and Lewis backed her up with 11, including six in the first quarter that helped the Red Devils forge an 8-8 tie after eight minutes.
Sophomore Sarah Bockmuller scored all seven of her points and Musil added six as Crestwood, using its defense to ignite some fastbreak opportunities, began to distance itself from Field in the second stanza, taking a pair of 10-point advantages late in the half. Two Danielle Knapp free throws at the buzzer made the count 24-16 at the break.
Knapp paced the Falcons (0-2, 0-1 PCL) with 13 points and Kristen Hunter chipped in with 11. The majority of the Field offense came on the perimeter, however, as the Red Devils did a stellar job of overplaying the middle, keeping 5-11 Kati Gasper, 5-10 Erin Van Houten and 6-1 Jamie Notch from becoming major factors inside.
"We really stressed fronting the low post," said Haylett. "They have the four post players and he (Field coach Jerry Clemens) always has two post players in the game. They are not very mobile but they are taller than we are, and they like to take that little turnaround shot. We just fronted them."
Clemens lamented the Falcons' lack of opportunities in the paint.
"We couldn't get it inside," he said. "It seemed like every time we tried to, they had an answer for us. It was tough, and that hurts you if you don't have an inside and outside game. They shut us down pretty good."
A pair of 3-pointers in the last three minutes of the third quarter got the Field offense going and chopped a 28-16 Crestwood lead to 32-28 heading to the final quarter.
After closing within a bucket on three occasions, the Falcons finally were able to draw even _ for all of seven seconds _on King's basket.
Crestwood 43, Field 39
CRESTWOOD (43) _ Sara Lewis 5 1-2 11; Lyndsey Dasen 0 0-0 0; Emily Musil 7 4-4 18; Elizabeth Plott 1 3-3 5; Sarah Bockmuller 2 2-4 7; Rachel Goodell 1 0-0 2; Kristen Sandrick 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-13 43.
FIELD (39) _ Kim Shanafelt 2 0-0 5; Kristen Hunter 5 0-0 11; Danielle Knapp 4 5-7 13; Erin Van Houten 1 0-0 2; Shayla Patton 0 0-0 0; Ebony King 3 0-0 6; Kati Gasper 0 0-0 0; Joanna Griffiths 0 0-0 0; Jamie Notch 0 0-0 0; Julie Curtiss 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 5-7 39.
Three-Point Goals _ Crestwood (1): Bockmuller 1. Field (2): Shanafelt 1, Hunter 1.
Total Rebounds _ Crestwood, 38-28
Total Fouls _ Field, 13-9
JV Score _ Field, 43-11. Leading Scorers: (F) Jenny Moreck, 8 points; (C) Katie Biltz, 4 points.