For the second time this year, the Cardington Lady Pirates were able to celebrate a player reaching the 1000-point mark, as senior Kyndall Spires reached that milestone early in the second quarter of her team’s 83-32 win over Mount Gilead Wednesday night.
Spires entered the game with 996 points, but it wasn’t easy to tally the final four needed due to a stingy Mount Gilead defense in the early going. Pirate coach Jamie Edwards added that his team wasn’t playing their best during the opening period, as well.
“We knew Kyndall needed four,” he said. “Our flow was messed up. We also played the first quarter mostly without Sage (Brannon, who tallied her 1000th in January), who had a charlie horse. Having her on the floor changes our defensive tempo.”
Spires hit a free throw and Casey Bertke scored from the floor to open the game, but MG responded with a basket from Samantha Sullivan and a three-pointer by Holly Gompf to take a 5-3 lead.
Baskets from Paige Clinger, Spires and Bertke helped Cardington regain the lead at 10-5, but a free throw from Dakota Shipman and basket by Baylee Hack got the Indians within two with one minute remaining in the opening period.
Bertke got two baskets over that minute, though, and Cardington then tallied 10 straight points to open the second quarter. Brannon opened the period with a steal and score and Spires followed with her 1000th point on a free throw. After play resumed, Clinger got a basket and free throw, Kynlee Edwards added a three-pointer and Clinger then put in two more points to turn what had been a two-point game into a 25-10 advantage.
“We got tired,” said MG coach Ryan Stover of his team. “We felt if we pressured them a bit, we could turn them over and we accomplished that in the first half of the quarter. We played hard and had it respectable until the fourth.”
While the Indians got a three-pointer from Gompf and baskets from Sullivan and Madison Fitzpatrick over the final 4:30 of the half, Cardington was able to draw contact and make enough free throws to continue extending their lead, taking a 35-15 advantage into the half.
The Pirates added 10 points to their lead in the first four minutes of the third quarter, as Spires scored the team’s first five points of the half and Brannon added three more. Trailing 49-19, the Indians got a three-pointer from Hack and two baskets from Fitzpatrick to climb within 23, but Cardington got scores from Taylor Reppart and Hannah Wickline to end the period.
Cardington would then finish the game strongly, scoring 30 points over the final eight minutes to pull away for the win. After the game, Stover said that Cardington’s experience edge was a big difference, adding that his team is gradually gaining that experience.
“Those girls have a lot of game experience,” he said. “We’re getting there. We’re getting more experienced by the day. We’ve got a few more opportunities in the regular season. We’ll keep fighting and get there.”
Cardington only has one more regular season game, a rescheduled match-up with Heath. Edwards commented that being in a tight battle in the early portion of the contest was a positive thing for his squad, which has a number of potentially tough match-ups coming their way in the postseason.
“It’s kind of good we came out a little slow and they played us hard,” said the coach. “Because you don’t get any better when you get out by 30 after a quarter and a half.”
Bertke led Cardington with 18 points, while Spires scored 17, Brannon had 13, Edwards tallied 10 and Clinger finished with nine. Mount Gilead was led by Hack’s eight points.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS