Girls basketball: Tolsia wins battle of youth at Scott
MADISON - Scott Coach John Porter and Tolsia Coach Ric Morrone are dealing with the highs and lows of leading young teams this season, which likely will include a Class AA Region 4, Section 2 showdown between the Skyhawks and Rebels.
Given their youth, it is no surprise the teams engaged in a back-and-forth battle Tuesday night, when the Rebels (7-2, 5-0) finally escaped with a hard-fought 51-47 victory versus the Skyhawks (5-4, 4-1) to take sole possession of first place in the Cardinal Conference standings.
The familiar foes each have only one senior, post player Jessy Blankenship for Scott and forward Jamie Maynard for Tolsia. The rest of their rosters feature four juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen for the Skyhawks and three juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen for the Rebels.
It was the fifth consecutive road game for the Rebels.
"I would fire the guy who made the schedule," Morrone said, "but it was me."
Tolsia lost three starters from last season and is rebuilding around two juniors, All-State guard Krista Maynard and center Savannah Winnett.
"Everybody is starting to get on the same page," said Maynard, a third-year starter who averages 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for the Rebels. "Savannah and I are the only ones back, so we just have to get everybody up to speed and on the same page."
The Rebels were only seven deep against the Skyhawks, but they overcame their lack of depth by sharing the ball and finding the open player on offense and hustling and grabbing rebounds on defense.
"We are still a work in progress," said Morrone, whose team's only losses were to Class AAA opponents (Spring Valley and Logan). "I'm very proud of this group, who are still finding their own identity. They are growing before your very eyes."
Maynard scored a game-high 19 points and added seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Winnett followed with 15 points, four rebounds and two steals. Junior guard Jordan Presley contributed 11 points, three rebounds and three steals.
The Rebels committed 16 turnovers, including three in the fourth quarter, to allow the Skyhawks to remain within striking distance at the end.
There were five ties and nine lead changes in the first three quarters, with neither team leading by more than four points in the first 24 minutes.
Tolsia led 37-36 entering the fourth quarter and were able to increase their advantage to a game-high six points on sophomore guard Kerrie Lahoda's layup off Maynard's assist with 6:17 remaining.
Scott cut the deficit to two points at 46-44 after layups by sophomore forward Andrea Rankin (four points, 11 rebounds, two assists and one steal) and junior guard Jaimee Dotson (team-high 16 points, two rebounds and one steal).
The Skyhawks had a chance to tie the score, but they missed four short-range shots before Maynard grabbed the rebound and trotted to the free throw line to sink both attempts.
Presley and Maynard added three more foul shots in the final 30 seconds to clinch the victory.
Junior guard Julie Conway scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds for the Skyhawks, who committed 22 turnovers, including 12 that were unforced. Sophomore guard Landyn McKinney and Blankenship added six points apiece.
"The unforced turnovers killed us," said Porter, whose team finished as state runner-up the last three years. "And we had a few defensive lapses, but they run some pretty good offensive sets."
The Skyhawks are adjusting to life without Makenzie White, the state's reigning player of the year who recently decided to transfer from West Virginia University to Fairmont State University, and they are doing so against a tough schedule.
Two of Scott's losses were to defending state champions (Class A's St. Joseph and Class AA's Westside).
To make matters worse for the Skyhawks, they had to play without junior post player Alison Whitman on Tuesday. Whitman is one of their leading scorers and rebounders.
"We are only going to get better," Porter said.