BY GREG FLINT email@example.com
---- — CAYUGA, Ind. — Turnovers may have been the difference when Fountain Central defeated host North Vermillion in girls’ basketball by the score of 42-37.
Mustang head coach Amie Anthrop said her team had been averaging over 30 a game, “but we had only single-digit turnovers tonight.”
Meanwhile, Falcon coach Terry Naylor said, “We turned the ball over too many times to be able to win.”
The game may have hinged on turnovers, but shooting, rebounding and defense as well as poise all played a role at one time or another as the game progressed.
Fountain Central struck early by going inside to Macee Williams. She got a three-point play on a lay-up with just nine seconds gone in the contest.
“I spoke to her before the game,” said Anthrop, “and I told her we had to get going in the post from the start and she did.”
Sierra Grube hit a free throw to put North Vermillion on the board, but Williams answered with a short jumper and another layup to make it 7-1.
The Falcons came back on a pair of treys, one by Shawnacee Bowman and one from Rhiannon Grubbs sandwiched around jumper by Olivia Woodrow off a pass from Morgan for a 9-7.
That series set the tone for the night as Fountain Central would pull ahead then North Vermillion would, reel them back in.
The game was 11-9 after one quarter and the Mustangs got the lead to four only to have the Falcons tie it up at 16-all before a last second lay-up by Mackenzie Hurd put Fountain Central up 18-16 at halftime.
“I think their quickness hurt us and we don’t have anyone to match up with 50 [Macee Williams],” said Naylor. “We tried several things, fronting her, doubling her, but nothing really worked. I finally put Paige [Benskin] on her in the second half and that helped, but they still got her the ball.”
The quickness that Naylor mentioned came from several Mustang players, but one of them, Samantha Pigg, stood out with at least five steals or deflections that disrupted the Falcon offense.
“Sam is an aggressive player out there,” said Anthrop of the junior. “I can depend on her to go out there and be scrappy. You’ve got to have a player like that on your team.”
North Vermillion had stayed close in the latter stages of the second quarter, thanks in part to Williams heading to the bench with two fouls. She came back on the floor after the break with a vengeance.
She made a lay-up, a three-point play and a short jumper when she returned in the third quarter. Kyla Keeling hit a jumper then Williams made a free throw and a lay-up to give the Mustangs a double-digit lead at 30-19.
North Vermillion would not give up and twice Taylen Balding made a cross-court pass to Benskin to cut into the margin.
Williams stopped the mini-run with another basket, this one a putback that made it 34-25 going into the final quarter.
In those final eight minutes, North Vermillion made another run to pull within three at 38-35 on a trey by Grubbs with 4:30 left, but that was as close as the Falcons would get and the game ended 42-37.
Naylor said his team needed to be more aggressive on offense, saying, “We’d get the ball inside, maybe five feet from the basket. That means we executed our set plays, but instead of shooting, we’d pass back out and then turn it over. We need to shoot sooner.”
When Anthrop reviewed the game, she said her team had learned a lot from their 19-point loss to Lafayette Central Catholic on Tuesday.
“In two days, after playing against their press, we really got better,” she said. “We still need to improve our passing, but we did a great job of killing the clock in those final three minutes.”
She closed by saying that her goal is for the team to get better every game “and I saw that tonight.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org