Note: This sports recap appears in the Wednesday, Dec. 4 newspaper on Page B2.
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — Contrary to their solitary namesake, the Miami Trace girls used a pack mentality to pull away from Jackson (0-3) on Saturday night, 59-31, in the Frontier Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
The Panthers (1-1) used a rotation of ten players in the first half alone, pressing and pressuring the Ironladies’ young ball-handlers all over the floor. And while sophomore Katelyn Webb and her teammates proved up to the task for two quarters, they finally succumbed to an 11-point swing in the third.
“I think we got a little tired,” said Jackson coach Matt Walburn. “Trace always plays that pressure game really well, and they just kept at it until they got their transition game going in the third quarter.”
Until then, Wilburn’s team had at least been hanging in the game. Webb, especially, had been close to brilliant, playing a part in all 20 of her team’s first-half points by sinking three field goals – including a pair of tough running one-handers in the lane – three free throws, and dishing out assists on Taylor Evans’ two 3-pointers and Bronwyn Nelson’s two turnaround jumpers.
Webb finished with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, and five steals, which were all team-highs. Most of that damage, however, came in the first 16 minutes, before the Panthers’ defense became wise to the threat and began to more aggressively deny her the ball.
The tide turned quickly after that. Senior Magarah Bloom got the game-changing rally started with a coast-to-coast lay-in, and then she and Delaney Evans played a game of give-and-go for another transition basket. Aubrey McCoy finished the fast-break trifecta less than a minute later, jumping a passing lane and beating everyone down the floor with the interception.
Even when Miami Trace misfired, it still seemed as if it were playing with superior numbers on the boards. Emma Pitstick ran down one long rebound and quickly converted the 13-footer, while Evans later put one back from inside. Libby Aleshire’s short bank shot and Evans’ two foul shots completed the avalanche.
Webb’s triple from the left wing stopped the bleeding, but the reprieve was merely temporary, as Aleshire kicked off the fourth frame by taking both Hillery Jacobs’ defensive rebound and Bloom’s steal the length of the floor for easy buckets.
It was an impressive display of balance by the Panthers. Ten players found the scoring column, each one in the competitive phase of the game, three collected five or more rebounds, and seven garnered at least one assist. Eakins, a junior, led the way with 19 points, but even that was a relatively quiet total, earned mostly by a 9-of-11 performance from the foul line.
“We came out and did exactly what we wanted to do,” Walburn lamented. “We’re in a good position at halftime, we score the first two points of the third quarter to cut [the deficit] to eight, and then we get a little lazy. We start getting beat down the floor.
“It’s tough to do when you have only nine players, but we’re trying to get better every day, and that’s something we definitely need to keep working on.”
Jackson is back on action on Wednesday at home in FAC action against McClain.