BY Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — ELNORA — Last season the North Daviess girls basketball team struggled to score at times, but this season there has been no such trouble.
The Cougars (2-0) defeated Springs Valley 56-29 Tuesday night in the Cougar Den behind a balanced offensive attack that saw three different players score in double figures.
North Daviess ran out to a big lead in the first quarter behind nine points from Sabra Smith and eight from Meghan Knepp. Midway through the quarter the Cougars held a modest 6-2 lead, but two Smith 3-pointers helped spur on a 15-2 run to end the quarter to give North Daviess a 21-4 lead.
“Part of it was they (Springs Valley) hadn’t played a game yet,” said North Daviess coach Ron Knepp. “The other part was our aggressiveness. We are very aggressive defensively, we try to put pressure on you offensively. They hadn’t played a game yet and then you come out to pressure. That takes a little time to get used to.”
The second quarter was less explosive from the Cougars as Springs Valley outscored the home team 10-9 in the quarter, but North Daviess held a 30-14 lead at halftime. Kiana Wininger and Olivia Carnes kept Springs Valley in the game by combining for nine points in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Smith scored five points and Knepp had three, but six points from Taylor Mallett got the offense going with six of her 18 points. Mallett along with forward Brooke Moore were able to control the paint and frustrate the Springs Valley offense as North Daviess extended its lead to 44-23 at the end of the quarter. Knepp said he has seen an improvement strength wise from the entire team due to a strength and conditioning plan he implemented in the offseason.
“We have five people that have volunteered to help us out,” Knepp said. “All 19 girls participate in it. I’ve got two physical therapists, a doctor and two weight training people that volunteer their time to work with these girls. You ought to go in the gym when they are working out. They are working hard and Taylor Mallett is one of the hardest workers while we are lifting. That strength and confidence shows.”
North Daviess has scored more than 50 points in both games this season, after topping the 50-point mark just four times in the regular season last year. The continued evolution of the Cougars outside shooting from Knepp and Smith, coupled with Mallett’s improvement on the block has turned the Cougars into a potent offensive unit. In addition to Mallett’s 18 points, the Cougars got 18 from Smith and 12 from Knepp.
“I truly believe that on any given night I have at least four players that can go for 18-20 points,” Knepp said. “We’ve seen that in practice from Taylor (Mallett), we knew it was in there and now she has gotten an opportunity to display it. Brooke Moore can do that too. Our guards were hitting our shooters in rhythm tonight and that’s a big part of our offense. Once our guards get more acclimated, they’ll be able to score for us too.”
North Daviess will travel to Linton Saturday evening to take on Linton in search of a 3-0 start. Knepp said he sees no reason the offensive rhythm can’t continue to evolve.
“We want to defend and create some things off that defense,” Knepp said. “There are things we can definitely improve on. Offensively, we just have to keep the rhythm and keep finding open shooters. We are not a selfish team — anybody shoots. This is the hardest working team I’ve ever had. As long as we continue to work hard like that, we can go in on tape and we can clean up some of the mistakes on offense and help us out as we move forward.”
Springs Valley (29) — Seitz 1 0-0 2 2, Wininger 5 0-0 1 12, Allen 0 0-0 0 0, Ragains 0 0-0 0 0, C. Carnes 0 0-0 0 0, O. Carnes 2 0-0 3 4, Pendley 0 0-0 0 0, Deweese 3 0-4 4 6, Parker 0 0-0 0 0, Judd 0 0-0 0 0, Meehan 1 1-2 1 3, Gadau 1 1-2 2 3. Total 13 2-8 13 29
North Daviess (56) — Spears 0 1-2 0 1, Knepp 4 2-4 2 12, Smith 6 3-4 3 18, Mallett 8 2-2 4 18, Moore 2 0-0 1 4, Cecil 0 1-2 0 1, M. Schwartzentruber 1 0-0 0 2. Total 21 9-14 9 56.