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January 16, 2014

Western girls end HH's run

3A No. 9 Panthers stop Huskies' 30-game MIC streak.

ARCADIA — Western’s girls basketball team beat Hamilton Heights 61-43 Wednesday, bringing the Huskies’ 30-game Mid-Indiana Conference winning streak to an end.

The Huskies are five-time defending MIC champions. They won the 2010-13 tiles outright with 7-0 records. The Panthers were runners-up in ‘12 and again in ‘13, going 6-1 both times.

“Hamilton Heights has always had a good girls basketball program. It just feels great to know we finally overcame them because they’re such a great team,” Western guard Carley O’Neal said. “I’m really proud of everyone on the team. We stepped it up defensively and offensively. Just a great win.”

The Class 3A No. 9-ranked Panthers (11-2 overall) improved 5-0 in league play, putting them in the driver’s seat for their first MIC title since 2006. They are the only unbeaten left in the conference race.

Western has league games remaining against Cass and Maconaquah.

“We have to take care of business,” Western coach Chris Keisling said, “but it was a big notch forward [Wednesday].”

Western was playing its first game since Dec. 28, but it looked sharp. The Panthers were on fire from 3-point range, making 8 of 11 attempts. They finished with a decisive 38-23 rebounding advantage (16-5 offensive) and a plus-10 turnover margin. And their press was effective.

“We looked pretty sharp considering [the layoff],” Keisling said. “I had run that through my mind coming down on the bus. I had scouted a game Heights had played two nights earlier against Lewis Cass. I was thinking they had gotten a game under their belt since the break and we were going to be cold. We got some reps in practice and that helped, but you just never know when you miss that much time.

“The kids really responded [Wednesday]. I’m proud of the way they came to a tough place to play and got it done. Senior leadership all the way. They all contributed in a huge way.”

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