A strong defensive effort led visiting Cardington past Mount Gilead by a 50-32 score Saturday night and gave the Pirates their seventh straight outright league title and eighth in a row they’ve at least shared.
The Lady Pirates (11-0 in league play, 15-1 overall) were in a close game early, but pulled away in the second quarter. Head coach Jamie Edwards noted that with Dana Bertke on the bench with foul trouble, he needed a team effort to manufacture that lead.
“Our best defender was sitting on the bench in foul trouble,” he said. “Emalee Artz did a good job off the bench and Mikayla (Linkous) and the twins (Kamryn and Karsyn Edwards) were flying around the perimeter.”
Linkous and Kambry Edwards staked Cardington to a 6-0 lead with early three-pointers, but MG battled back to within an 8-7 margin on four points by Greer Simpson and a Madilyn Elson three. It looked like it would be 11-9 after one, but Karsyn Edwards was able to hit a buzzer-beater to make it a five-point game after eight minutes.
Coach Edwards felt his team has been very good at hitting shots when they need to.
“It’s all about momentum,” he said. “I told them that every time you hit a three, it’s timely.”
“What are you going to do?” said MG coach Bob Scott. “She shot it from clear out here. If they make it, it’s a good shot. Defensively, for the most part, we did what we were supposed to do.”
Offensively was a different story for the Indians. After Simpson hit a pair of free throws to trim the Pirate lead to 14-11 early in the second quarter, they would not score again in the half — a six-minute stretch that saw Cardington get a pair of three-pointers by Beth Hardwick and two points each from Artz and Karsyn Edwards to open up a 24-11 advantage.
‘We have those games every once in a while where we get stuck on a number and can’t get off it,” said Scott. “Give them credit — they made it tough on us to score.”
Four points by Bertke and two from Linkous in the early stages of the third quarter increased the Pirate lead to 17 at 30-13. Mount Gilead battled back with a three-minute 7-0 run paced by four Lydia Stalnaker points to get within 10 and only trailed 33-22 at the conclusion of the quarter.
However, the Pirates opened the fourth with four points by Hardwick and two from Kambry Edwards to get back up to a 17-point advantage and their lead never dwindled below 14 the rest of the way.
“They had it to close to 10,” said Scott. “We had it at 11 for a while, but they got a couple shots. A lot from the foul line and they got a couple shots in transition.”
Elson led Mount Gilead with eight points. For Cardington, Hardwick had 14 and Linkous tallied 13, while Karsyn Edwards finished with eight.
Coach Edwards loved the atmosphere at the game — feeling it was good preparation for the postseason.
“It was like a district final atmosphere, I thought,” he said. “That helps them and helps us.”
Edwards had a lot to be happy about after the game: winning another league title, extending his program’s win streak over the Indians to 3641 days (MG’s last win over Cardington was on Feb. 10, 2012) and, most importantly, the possibility that his team is finally healthy.
The coach noted that his players have had to deal with COVID-19 and other illnesses, leading to situations were players were missing games and, at times, exiting them due to sickness.
“It seemed we were sick for three weeks,” he said. “Dana played in the Fredericktown game, but had no energy. Tonight, we didn’t have anyone sick for the first time in three weeks.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS