TWIN FALLS — The Lighthouse Christian girls basketball team had little trouble downing Castleford at home, and it was propelled by a historic performance by senior guard Chloe Gomez for the Lions.
The Lions beat the Wolves 72-18 Tuesday night to remain undefeated.
Just a few minutes into the fourth quarter, Gomez netted a 3-pointer from the top of the key to finish off her 37-point performance, setting a new single-game scoring record at Lighthouse Christian previously held by her sister, Parris, who scored 36.
“I think she’ll definitely be mad,” Gomez said.
Defense helped her early on, as Castleford had difficulty navigating the full-court press set by Lighthouse Christian, which rode the defensive play to a 27-4 first quarter.
Gomez said that setting the tone early with ball pressure and creating turnovers and steals helped create easy baskets.
“We’re really focused on defense and letting that play into our offense so we can come out strong like we did,” she said.
Castleford head coach Jason Tverdy said that he expects some opponents to run a strong full-court press, but it was the first one his team had encountered this season.
“We’ve practiced full-court press before,” Castleford head coach Jason Tverdy said, “but obviously it’s different in a game situation versus practice.”
When Castleford was able to establish an offensive effort, Lighthouse Christian used the size of players like Haylee Grossman and Sabrina De Jong to keep the ball out of the paint, forcing perimeter passing and deep shots.
But Tverdy said that the Wolves weren’t executing with the limited opportunities the Lions’ defense gave them on the periphery.
“We weren’t able to move the ball much,” he said, “and when we had space, we held on to the ball too long and got stuck.”
Fouls also got Castleford into trouble, as the Wolves fouled nine times in the first quarter and finished the night with 21 fouls.
Offensively, junior Maddy March led the Wolves with nine points.
With the win, Lighthouse Christian moves to 5-0 on the year, while Castleford drops to 0-3. Though the Lions haven’t seen the state tournament since 2014, the early results are encouraging. Lighthouse Christian head coach Tia Killoy said the key is team unity.
“That’s all we’ve really been working on, just working together and winning as a team,” she said.
But she doesn’t deny that Gomez, who has recorded more than 15 points in each of her last four games, has been a big factor in how her team is performing.
“She’s a great leader as a senior,” Killoy said. “She’s doing everything I ask her to do.”
Gomez said that she worked on her shot all summer long and is glad to see it falling so far this season.
She was also a part of a Lions volleyball team, as a few of her teammates were, that fell in the state tournament earlier than expected, and she said that that experience will help her and her team push hard in basketball to make a deep run.
“If we keep working hard, we’ll go far,” she said. “That’s what I’m most excited for.”
Lighthouse Christian 72, Castleford 18
Lighthouse Christian; 27; 17; 18; 11; – 72
Castleford; 4; 7; 2; 5; – 18
LIGHTHOUSE CHRISTIAN (72) — Trudy Millenkamp 3, Sabrina De Jong 4, Chloe Gomez 37, Lauren Gomez 3, Haylee Grossman 15, Maycee Holloway 6, Jordy Williams 1, Caitlyn Gaskill 3. FG: 23. FT: 11-27. 3-pointers: 5 (C. Gomez 3, L. Gomez 1, Gaskill 1). Total fouls: 14. Fouled out: none.
CASTLEFORD (18) — Alondra Rivera 3, Maddy March 9, Iliana Erives 4, Grace Loman 2. FG: 5. FT: 5-13. 3-pointers: 1 (March). Total fouls: 21. Fouled out: Sydney Schoth.