In a battle between two longtime Grant County rivals on Friday evening, the Missississinewa Indians used a high-scoring first quarter to come away with the victory, defeating the Eastbrook Panthers by a score of 44-33.
“Our girls were resilient tonight,” Mississinewa Head Coach Laura Friday said. “We weren’t really able to get into a flow after that first quarter, so that made the game a little bit closer, but we had Caily step up [and] Alayna step up, Mia had good minutes, Laekyn Emmons had big minutes. It was a great team win.”
The Indians took control of the contest in the first eight minutes, building a commanding 22-2 lead and eventually taking a 22-6 advantage into the second quarter.
“I think we came out a little tight,” Eastbrook Head Coach Jeff Liddick said. “Maybe a little nervous and anxious. We just didn’t do a good job of executing, not so much on the defensive end but on the offensive end. We had a lot of turnovers in that first quarter that led to a lot of easy buckets for them.”
After the first quarter, the Panthers played much better, and despite not being able to recover from their first quarter deficit, Liddick was pleased with his team’s never-say-die attitude, which has been one of the staples of his program over the last several seasons.
“Once we settled down, we actually outscored them 27-21 the last three quarters,” Liddick said. “We did a better job of taking care of the basketball. The strength that always sticks out with these girls is that they never quit. They always continue to battle. Being down 22-2 at one point, it could have been real easy for those girls to fold up right then and say, ‘Hey, we are just going to take a butt-whopping. We are going to get through these final three quarters and move on.
“But they didn’t. They continued to battle. They continued to scrap. I’m just extremely proud of their effort and their resolve not to quit those remaining three quarters.”
Caily Bolser finished with a tough 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Alayna Webb also came away with 14 points to go with five assists. Darah Watson added eight for the Indians in their first CIC victory.
“It was truly a team win,” Friday said. “They were taking away Caily in the post. We were throwing the ball out and Alayna Webb was hitting [her shots.] Darah hit some and Mia hit some. That’s the best part about coaching this team – the amount of options we have.”
Despite the loss, Liddick believes that his young team is continuing to make strides
“We are continuing to get better,” Liddick said. “We have to find a way to execute better on the offensive end. We had 23 turnovers, and we only shot 40 percent from the free throw line. Having done that on the offensive end and still being in the game like they were, I told them that, ‘If you take better care of the basketball, and you commit to getting better at the free throw line, you’ll start winning a lot of basketball games.
“We’re right there.”