By tribune sports staff
Western’s girls basketball team used stifling defense and balanced scoring to take down a state power on its home floor Wednesday night when the Panthers won 51-48 at Class 3A No. 3-ranked Lebanon. Caitlyn O’Neal scored 13 points to lead the Panthers, who improved to 8-1.
“It was big. It’s one of those games where you’d like to say it was a statement game,” Western coach Chris Keisling said. “We were able to go over to their court and get a huge win. We defended extremely well. We were able to keep their shooters in check most of the night.”
Allison Lindley added 11 points, Ashley Givens 10, Raven Black nine and Carley O’Neal eight.
“I thought Raven played an excellent game for us inside, defending inside like she did, and was able to get nine points. We stayed out of foul trouble by moving our feet. I thought Givens hit a huge shot at the end to put us up three. That was a big shot there deep in the fourth quarter to allow us to handle the ball and go to the foul line and put the game a little further out of reach. It still came down to one defensive stand at the end of the game where they had a chance to tie it with a 3. They got a look, but it didn’t go down.”
After a banner 2011-12 season, the current squad is making its own set of waves.
“They did some big things for Western last year by going to the final four in the semistate, and this year they put themselves on the map by beating an excellent, excellent Lebanon team,” Keisling said. Lebanon fell to 7-2.
The coach said Western got great effort from all six Panthers that played.
“Caitlyn O’Neal came up huge for us the second half,” Keisling said. “She hit four huge free throws at the end to really help us ice it away as well. She played really heads-up basketball that second half. Lindley was consistent the whole game, and kept us in the game the first half with some big buckets. [Kiersten] Durbin came in [when Carley O’Neal was in foul trouble] and was phenomenal handling the ball and on defense.”
Taylor 46, Alexandria 36
The Titans snapped a seven-game losing streak with the home victory over the Tigers.
Taylor (2-7) trailed by one at the half, 28-27, but limited Alex (1-8) to just eight points in the second half, including a single free throw in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Brie Boehler led the Titans with 10 points, while classmate Lydia Owens added nine.
“We did a great job on [Courtney] Skinner and [Peyton] Quinn. They combined to score 36 against us last year and [Wednesday] night they only had 17,” Taylor coach Dennis Bentzler said, also noting strong performances from Owens and fellow freshman Savannah Delgado. “We did a great job on the press in the third quarter. We switched things up on them and got some steals and took control from there. The kids are learning how to win. They’re starting to get the hang of things. The game is starting to slow down a bit for them after our tough schedule to start the season. I’m proud of my kids from the defensive standpoint. We really turned things up on [Alex] in the second half.”
Hamilton Heights 105.5,
The Wildkats collected a couple victories in the Heights pool. Alyson Rohlfing won the 200 free in 2:17.42. Taylor Coram won the diving competition with a score of 199.15 and Hannah Reecer followed to give the Kats a 1-2 finish on the board.
“We could hang with them for a little bit but then our girls ran out of steam, struggled to apply some of the racing strategies we tried to apply,” Kokomo coach Donita Walters said. “I thought it would be a closer meet. We saw some good things: My big thing was Katie Harbaugh, a young lady who’s dropped almost a minute in the 500 free; newcomer Kristina Moreland had some awesome swims. So, a lot of positives, but I see a lot of things we need to work on in the pool and apply in our races.”
Hamilton Heights 99, Kokomo 71
Nathan Banush won the 500 free for the Wildkats in a time of 5:24.24, the 200 free relay team of Logan Hawk, Phil Heilman, Blake Brookshire and Banush won in 1:39.03, and the 400 free relay team of Adam Harding, Dustin Lytle, Josh Church and Chase Jackson won in 3:58.9.
“They’re just very strong this year,” Kokomo coach Jay Glick said of the Huskies. “We didn’t swim our best I don’t think but they’re pretty tough.”