Mount Gilead jumped out to a commanding lead at Highland in a Wednesday night KMAC girls’ basketball game and were able to hold off a second-half rally attempt by the Scots in earning a 45-32 win.

“We did a good job in the first half switching our defense,” said MG coach Bob Scott. “In the second half, we got a little flustered and they picked up their pressure.”

The Indian defense held Highland to four points on shots by Emma West and Maddy Gordon in the opening period, allowing them to jump out to a 9-4 lead. Madilyn Elson equaled the Scot total by herself, while Holly Gompf added three points and Candace Millisor also hit a basket.

Gompf would then take over in the second quarter. She hit a pair of three-pointers and Millisor added four points as Mount Gilead opened the period with a 10-0 run to boost their advantage to a 15-point margin.

Highland would get baskets by Brylinn Tuggle and West, but a basket and free throw by Aubrey Thomas kept MG up by a 22-8 margin. Gompf would then hit her third three-pointer of the quarter and Elson added two points. While the Scots finished the half with pair of Tuggle free throws, they found themselves in a 27-10 hole going into the locker room.

“When you start out in the first half and get down by 19 points and have a lot of turnovers and missed shots, it’s tough,” said Highland coach Whitney Levering Smith. “In the second half, the team we had was the team we’ve been preaching we want to see. We need it for all four quarters and haven’t gotten that yet.”

Scott was happy with how his team handled Highland’s size, especially since the Indians were without post player Isabella Schroeter in the game.

“We were worried tonight because of their size and we were without our six-footer,” he said. “We worked on boxing out and did a good job rebounding. We were a little undersized.”

In the third quarter, MG was able to maintain their lead, as four different players scored two points each. Highland got five from Guinevere Jackson, but only could cut one point off their deficit.

Trailing 35-19 going into the fourth, the Scots were able to put forth a good run. Jackson opened the period with a basket and Kennedy Altizer drained a three-pointer. A Gompf basket made it 37-24, but West tallied a pair of free throws and Jackson scored again to make it a nine-point game at 37-28 with 2:41 remaining in the contest.

Levering Smith was pleased with the play of her sophomore guard after the intermission, adding that she also had the assignment to guard Gompf.

“Guinevere Jackson stepped up,” she said. “She played very big-time defense. We put them on their best player and she also got all nine of her points in the second half.”

The Scots wouldn’t be able to get over the hump, though. Trailing 39-30, they watched the Indians get four points from Elson in finishing the game on a 6-2 run.

“We were mixing up our defenses and making them guess what we were running,” said Levering Smith. “We made them commit more turnovers in the second half; we were just not able to convert them into points.”

After losing early in the season to Danville, Scott was pleased with how his team has responded in going on a four-game win streak to improve to 5-1.

“We came back and kind of set the tone a little bit,” he said. “We were a little more disciplined in practice and worked on sharpening our offense and playing better defense.”

Gompf hit three three-pointers in scoring 18 for MG, while both Millisor and Elson tallied 10. For Highland, West finished with 10 and Jackson tallied nine.

Holly Gompf works to score two of her 18 points in Mount Gilead’s Wednesday night win at Highland. Gompf works to score two of her 18 points in Mount Gilead’s Wednesday night win at Highland. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Kennedy Altizer goes up for three in Highland’s game with Mount Gilead Wednesday. Altizer goes up for three in Highland’s game with Mount Gilead Wednesday. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

By Rob Hamilton

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Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS