Lady Rebs roll in season opener, 77-42
South Central girls basketball coach Randall Schoen said his team’s locker room at Providence High School was so hot he couldn’t keep his group in it for a pregame pep talk or the traditional half-time speech.
He didn’t need either one.
The Lady Rebels raced to a 21-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back in their season opener against Austin in the first game of the Southern Indiana Tip-Off Tournament in Clarksville.
Senior All-state candidate Rachel Dixon made the game her coming-out party with 33 points, four 3-pointers, eight assists, three steals and a couple of rebounds in South’s 77-42 victory.
“I really thought our post players stepped up to the challenge tonight. We just told them at half to keep the intensity on the ball and just keep crashing the boards. It was so hot in the locker room that we didn’t talk about much,” Schoen said.
South was 27 of 61 from the floor, including 5-11 on threes, and forced 27 Austin turnovers while giving up the ball just 14 times.
That’s in stark contrast to last season’s season-opener in the same tournament against Clarksville. In that fiasco, South coughed up the ball 33 times and still won by 30 points.
“I was hoping this year with us being a little older that we’d cut down the turnovers, and I think we did a good job of that. If we can only have 14 and the other team have 27, I feel real good about our chances. We could live with that,” Schoen said.
Dixon and Melissa Biesel got the Lady Rebels on the right foot with two quick baskets to start the game. Austin tied it a few ticks later on buckets by Ashley Hutchinson and Tiffany Thurston and took a 9-8 lead on a trey by Jenna Smith.
From there, however, Dixon almost single-handedly led a 13-3 run with three 3-pointers, including two in the final 10 seconds of the period for a 21-12 lead at the first stop.
Sophomore Samantha Troutman scored the first of her 13 points to start the second period. Dixon had a deuce and a triple to cap a 20-3 streak.
Tremendous defense by the Rikki Abbott and other members of the Lady Rebels kept Austin from hitting a field goal until just over two minutes left in the half.
“Rikki, I tell you, if I was the one with the ball and she was guarding me, I’d be so frustrated because she just doesn’t leave you alone. She really did a good job tonight, and if you put her and Rachel out there with their speed, they can cause a lot of havoc,” Schoen said. “They certainly did that tonight.”
Biesel had a free throw, and Dixon and Abbott each had field goals to double-up Austin at the half, 40-20.
The Lady Eagles’ rebounding kept the team in it for a couple of minutes in the third, but it was a moot point as Austin was held to 10 of 57 shooting from the floor for the game and just 5-21 on threes.
Austin led in rebounding in the first half, but South closed the gap in the second set to knot the rebounding at 44-all.
“Rebounding is probably going to be a problem for us. We aren’t going to dominate anybody, but as long as the shooters hit their shots and we continue to play good defense, I think it’ll help offset that a little bit,” Schoen said.
Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Rebels was Troutman’s 13, Abbott’s 12, Shannon Bruner turned in seven points with a three, Biesel had five, Abbie Knear four, Lindsay Haag two, and Ashley Koons dropped in one free throw.
Many of South’s points came through Dixon in the form of unselfish assists.
“I think Rachel understands that we have to have 25 to 30 points out of her to win, but for her to go on to the next level, she has to learn to get more people involved. I thought tonight she showed that she’s working on that,” Schoen said. “If the game’s tied or something, I’d just assume she’d take the shot, and I think she knows that.”
Austin was led by Hutchinson’s 15 points and two threes; Jenna Smith scored 9 on a trio of threes, and Chrissy Crawford tossed in eight.
In the night’s second game, Providence started slow and ended with a bang in a 55-32 rout of Henryville.
Tara Cobb led the winners with 14 points while Alicia Hatter scored 16 in the losing effort.
All four clubs will be back in action tomorrow night: South squares off against Providence (the winner of this game will take home the inaugural Barn Burner Trophy) at 8 p.m., to be preceded by Austin-Henryville at 6.
The rest of the Tip-Off Tournament game are as follows: Nov. 14 – Henryville vs. Austin, Providence vs. South Central. At Clarksville: Nov. 12 – Madison Shawe vs. Clarksville, Trinity Lutheran vs. Charlestown; Nov. 14 – Clarksville vs. Charlestown, Madison Shawe vs. Trinity Lutheran.
Playoff Tournament play at Providence on Nov. 16: (13) – Providence 3rd vs. Clarksville 4th; (14) – Providence 1st vs. Clarksville 2nd; (17) – Loser Game 13 vs. Loser Game 15; (18) – Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 15. At Clarksville – Clarksville 3rd vs. Providence 4th; (16) Clarksville 1st vs. Providence 2nd; (19) Loser Game 14 vs. Loser Game 16; (20) Winner Game 14 vs. Winner Game 15.