Cardington’s Lady Pirates struggled early on offense, but were able to rely on stifling defense to take the lead on visiting East Knox Friday night. Then, when the shots started dropping, they widened that advantage until the final buzzer sounded with them on top by a 66-27 count.
“We were leaving so many points off the board,” said head coach Jamie Edwards of his team’s early-game issues. “We just told them to keep after it.”
The coach couldn’t claim about his squad’s defensive performance, though. East Knox didn’t score until the 1:14 mark of the first quarter, by which time the Pirates had managed to put 10 points on the board. Edwards noted that his team has a lot of size inside, which can make it hard for other teams to manufacture consistent offense.
“We have Casey (Bertke) at 6’3”, Hannah (Wickline) at 6’ and Paige (Clinger) at 5’10” with one of the longest wingspans I’ve every coached,” he said.
Bertke carried the team offensively in the early going, scoring their first seven points and eight of the team’s 13 in the first quarter, as they jumped out to a 13-4 lead after eight minutes.
Beth Hardwick scored two baskets in the opening minutes of the second quarter, while Bertke added another bucket in boosting that lead to a 19-4 margin. Edwards noted he has a good mix of talent this year, with a handful of very experienced varsity players to go with a quartet of talented freshmen in Hardwick, Dana Bertke, Karsyn Edwards and Kynlee Edwards.
“We’re moving in four freshmen who are playing real good minutes and have Kynlee Edwards and Paige Clinger, who are four-year starters, and Casey, who’s started every game she’s played.”
The coach noted that one big advantage that freshman class is giving him and his staff is increased depth. Through three games this season, he said that he’s been able to keep everyone’s minutes manageable.
“They (the freshmen) fit right in,” he said. “Any of them can handle the ball and shoot it. We have four girls coming in averaging 22 minutes a game and the girl averaging the most is Casey at 23. Three of our four freshmen are over 10 minutes a game and the fourth is at nine.”
Coach Edwards also is pleased with his team’s scoring diversity. Against the Bulldogs, 10 different girls tallied points. Over the final 4:06 of the second period, Kynlee Edwards scored five, while both Wickline and Taylor Reppart picked up three and both Casey Bertke and Clinger added one bucket each, as Cardington took a 34-12 lead into the half.
Four points by Casey Bertke and a put-back by Wickline made the score 40-12 two minutes into the third quarter. By the end of the period, the margin was over 30 points at 54-20 and the Pirates never looked back in winning by 39.
Casey Bertke, who also celebrated her birthday that day, poured in 18 points to lead Cardington. Kynlee Edwards added 12.
After the contest had concluded, coach Edwards was excited about the potential his team has, citing that depth, as well as the versatility that some of his players have.
“We have four freshmen and any of the four, especially Dana Bertke and Beth Hardwick, can do a lot of things,” he said. “It’s nice to bring two kids off the bench who can guard any position from one through five. We’re as talented as we’ve ever been, even with losing Kyndall (Spires) and Sage (Brannon).”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS