A second quarter run boosted the Mount Gilead Lady Indians to an 11-point lead over Northmor Saturday afternoon in a game they would win 57-35.
The game was tied at 12 after Northmor opened the quarter with a Madison Simpson basket at the 7:21 mark. That would be the only points scored by the Golden Knights in the period, though. Mount Gilead finished the half on an 11-0 run that saw four different girls contribute points. Lydia Stalnaker connected from three, while Candace Millisor added a pair of baskets, Madilyn Elson also scored from the field and Grace Shipman recorded a pair of free throws.
“What makes us good is our energy in the gym — we call it ‘juice’,” said MG coach Nick Vukovich. “When we have juice in the gym, that’s when I think we play our best. In the second quarter, we got some key players in that bring a lot of energy to our team and that’s when we started picking up our defensive effort. We got hands on the ball, we got steals and we were able to transition very well.”
After a first quarter that saw Riley Johnson score seven points to keep Northmor within a two-point margin, Golden Knight coach Freddie Beachy didn’t see much of that same energy from his players.
“We just got our butts kicked,” he said. “They didn’t want to be here. They didn’t want to work and that’s the result.”
Beachy noted that his team doesn’t have much returning varsity experience and graduated most of its scoring from last year, so they’ll need to rely on a strong defensive effort if they want to win games.
“I get that we have four seniors and they don’t have the experience of four seniors,” he said. “Then throw in a couple sophomores and a couple freshmen, that’s the results and that’s how it’s going to be like all year until we stop being lazy. I tell them I don’t mince words. We played lazy and that’s why we got beat.”
After getting a halftime lead, the Indians maintained it in the third quarter. Four points by Simpson brought Northmor back to a 23-16 margin, but MG countered with an 8-1 run sparked by three points from both Millisor and Ava Baker. The Golden Knights got back within six thanks to a basket by Emilee Jordan followed by back-to-back threes from Johnson and Emily Zeger, but an Elson bucket made it 33-25 going into the fourth.
“This team, all season and even in the preseason, they know how to play ahead,” said Vukovich. “We’ve been fortunate to be able to do that in the majority of the games and when they get there, they feel a little more comfortable with what they’re doing, so they have a little more confidence.”
The Indians would then pull away in the fourth quarter, getting eight points from Elson and four each from Millisor and Faith White in adding 10 points to their lead to win by 18.
Beachy noted that his players need to show a more consistent effort, saying that they’d played strong defense in splitting their first two contests.
“We lost our first game, but we played great defense against Crawford,” he said. “Three plays in a row was the deciding factor in the game. We played Centerburg and created 30 turnovers. We didn’t work as hard. We have to work hard on every possession. Some of these kids have to understand we have to work hard every game and not pick and choose.”
Northmor finished with 11 points by Johnson and 10 from Simpson. MG got 12 points by Elson, 11 from Millisor and eight by Baker.
Vukovich felt his team has done great in starting this season with three wins in as many outings.
“It’s really exceeded our expectations,” he said. “We knew coming in, it would be a matter of if the kids are buying in. I really do believe they are. The kids get all the credit. They’re going out there, we’re telling them what to do, what they need to do and, for the most part, they are. They bought into the program and it’s working.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS