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Lady Rebels overpower CAI

Lady Rebels overpower CAI
Lady Rebels overpower CAI
During a first-half, full-court press, South Central sophomores Millie Spencer and Gabby Ashby put the defensive clamps on Brooklyn Shields of Christian Academy of Indiana Friday night in Elizabeth. The Lady Rebels cruised to a 68-18 victory for their first win of the season. Photo by Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer

After dodging a COVID-19 contact-tracing scare just a few minutes before South Central was to tip off Friday night against Christian Academy of Indiana, the Lady Rebels made the most of their opportunity to play basketball in Elizabeth.

South Central’s boys’ season had been put on hold a few hours earlier and, under direction from the health department with just five minutes before tipoff, Principal Mark Black and South Harrison Community School Supt. Dr. Mark Eastridge approached girls’ coach Lynne Johnson to discuss whether or not any members of the Lady Rebels had come in contact with any of the boys’ players throughout the day. After pulling South Central’s girls from the floor and questioning them in the locker room, it was decided no one had been exposed and the game was allowed to be played.

South Central went on to hold CAI to four points in both the first and third quarters to cruise to score the team’s first victory of the season, 68-18, over the Warriors on Senior Night.

“I’m excited for the girls, obviously,” Johnson said. “There was some question at the very beginning. We had a rough day today within the boys’ program, and it kind of trickled down to (the girls) and right at the last minute there was some contact tracing that went on and luckily we were still able to play. We were holding our breaths.

“Did we get here and go through warmups and now we’re going to get in our cars and go home? This year, who knows?,” she said. “I’m just super proud of them, and I’m glad we got to play. I feel like I was in tears in the hallway, and I’d already cried once because my son’s senior night was canceled today, and that’s what I’d said all year: I just wanted the seniors to have their moment to get some time on the floor.”

The 50-point win was the most lopsided victory by the Lady Rebels since Jan. 28, 2016, when the squad clubbed Rock Creek Community Academy by 51, 83-32.

South Central’s lone senior, Lily Boley, scored eight of her team’s points in the first quarter, which ended with the hosts on top, 13-2. The lone bucket by CAI (0-6) in the frame came from the hands of junior Nicole Tucker with 4:48 in the period.

The Lady Rebels (1-6) picked up the pace in the second quarter while holding CAI to just two field goals in the stanza.

The 18-7 run started with a free throw by Kendall Kiper, who paced all scorers with 25 points on the night. Gracey McCrary knocked down a goal for a 16-2 advantage before CAI’s Ella McCoy ended the slide with a deuce. South Central went on another 7-0 spurt with a triple and a bucket by Kiper around a basket by Lexi Liebert for a 23-4 lead.

The two clubs tussled back and forth to the half-time buzzer, which ended with South Central on top, 31-9.

The Lady Rebels’ defense stepped up in the third and held the visitors without a field goal for the entire period and continued the field-goal shutout until 4:18 left in the contest.

After CAI’s Brooklyn Shields knocked down a single free throw, Boley scored back-to-back baskets inside and Millie Spencer hit one from downtown as part of her 12-point night.

“I feel like, especially Kendall and Millie, their junior high career was on and off with numbers so they didn’t get as much work in at junior high and then last year sometimes they got to play and sometimes didn’t,” Johnson said. “To see Kendall grow with her confidence over the past year has been great. Last year, Kendall kind of had a deer-in-the-headlights look … and this year she’s taken over that position. I can see their confidence getting better in practice and, the more we can play, the better it’s going to help us down the road.”

Shields connected on another free throw, but the hosts closed on a 10-0 run on buckets by Kiper, Spencer, Autumn Drane and Boley for a 48-11 lead at the end of three.

The burst continued in the fourth, thanks to Kiper, Drane and Kayla Kaufer, who continued the run to 18-0 until McCoy ended the drought.

The Warriors’ longest run of the game came next on five straight points by McCoy, but her team would score only one more time the rest of the match.

The Lady Rebels were 27 of 68 (40%) from the field and tossed up 29 triples, hitting seven. South Central was 7 of 12 at the charity stripe and thrashed CAI on the boards, 50-34. The Warriors, who gave up 28 turnovers while forcing just 12, shot 6 of 36 (17%) from the field and misfired on their lone triple attempt.

South Central’s next two games — last Saturday at Henryville and this past Monday at Crothersville — wound up being postponed  after additional contact tracing from the boys’ basketball team put a number of Lady Rebels in quarantine.

Assuming no further issues with COVID-19, South Central’s girls are off until a Jan. 2 date hosting Providence (1-7), whose only victory of the season came Saturday against CAI, 43-11.

CAI                                     2     7     2     7 – 18

South Central                 13   18   17   20 – 68

Christian Academy of Indiana (0-9) – McCoy 7, Shields 6, Payne 3, Tucker 2.

South Central (1-6) – Kiper 25, Boley 16, Spencer 12, Liebert 5, Drane 4, Ashby 2, Kaufer 2, McCrary 2.

3-point goals – South Central 7 (Kiper 3, Boley 2, Liebert 1, Spencer 1).