MUNSTER | If Aleysha Slaven was to become a thief of some sort, she'd have an easy time getting any items she'd target.
In a sectional loaded with teams like West Side and Lake Central who are more perimeter-oriented, they are going to get a good look at Highland's defense, which forced 13 Morton turnovers in the first half in its 44-36 opening round win in the Class 4A Munster Sectional.
First thing's first, though, as the Trojans (8-13) will play Northwest Crossroads Conference champion Lowell at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Slaven alone recorded six steals in the half and scored 10 first-half points -- including eight in transition -- to lead all scorers.
When asked how Slaven has improved her defense over the duration of this season, the junior had a funny response.
"I started listening to my coaches yelling," she said, grinning from ear to ear with her coaches laughing in the background. "They would tell us to go harder and get in our stances."
It must have been a message that was also heard loud and clear by the rest of her teammates, as the Governors (11-11) committed 22 total turnovers, which led to 22 Highland points.
Highland coach Tracie Mezera said the team picked up the defensive intensity much more on Tuesday than in its 41-39 loss to Morton on Jan. 9.
"We defended a lot better than the first time," she said. "We put a lot of ball pressure and converted on our transition layups."
The other big disparity was free throws, as the Trojans shot 11-for-16 compared to Morton's 4-for-12.
Mezera feels that her team is as confident as it has been all year.
"We had a three-game win streak late in the season, but then we were hurt and some were sick, but now we're all back," she said.
Junior guard Alexis Casas paced Morton with 11 points and three assists.