It wasn’t pretty, but the North Daviess girls basketball team came away with another victory.
The Cougars (3-0, 1-0 Southwestern Indiana) defeated Linton Thursday evening at the Cougar Den, 33-18, behind 14 points from Meghan Knepp.
After scoring 62 points in Monday’s win at Lawrenceville, the Cougars put the Miners in a hole almost immediately. North Daviess took a 12-0 lead after the first quarter. Knepp scored five points in the first eight minutes to pace the Cougars. Head coach Ron Knepp thought the key to the first quarter surge was its defense.
“I thought defensively we were putting a lot of pressure on the basketball,” Ron Knepp said. “When we play well on the defensive end, it gives up a lot of activity on the offensive end. We definitely play best when our defense is active. If our defense is not active, we’re not active on the offensive end. It goes hand in hand.”
The Cougars continued to attack the Linton defense as the second quarter got underway, eventually pushing the lead to 17-2. Maggie Schwartzentruber and Sabra Smith combined for six points in the second quarter to push the lead to 21-8 at halftime. After one of its best halves offensively and defensively of the young season, the Cougars struggled offensively in the third quarter, managing only three points on a Meghan Knepp’s second three-pointer of the night.
“In the third quarter we just came out a little flat,” Ron Knepp said. “We didn’t get those opportunities on the defensive end like we were getting in the first half. We just didn’t get it picked up in that third quarter the way we would have liked to. They’re an athletic team, they made adjustments at halftime, and I’m sure that factored into that.”
North Daviess took a 24-12 lead into the final period as they continued to struggle offensively, Linton cut the lead to 24-14, the closest they’d been since the first quarter.
After junior guard Abby Hollis made a jumper to push the lead to 12, Meghan Knepp made her third three-pointer of the game, making it a 29-14 advantage. After a Smith steal, she fed Knepp, who gave it right back for an easy layup for Smith. The give and go between Knepp and Smith put the Cougars up 17 and the game effectively out of reach.
The three-point third quarter was the second time in as many home wins that North Daviess has struggled mightily for an entire quarter. In its home opening 29-15 win against Washington Catholic, the Cougars were outscored 3-1 in the second quarter. Ron Knepp said finding more scoring, especially a second scoring threat behind Meghan Knepp is something that the Cougars need to find if they want to continue to win games.
“Scoring has always been an issue for this group,” Ron Knepp said. “We can get to 30, but to consistently win games you need to score 45 or 50 points. We have to find that scoring, it is November, and our offense isn’t going to be as good in November as it is in January and February. It’s just going to take time for these kids to get used to each other.”
Despite the team’s offensive struggles, Ron Knepp is pleased with the progress his team is making, and the Cougars after all are undefeated.
“At the end of the year it’s a win or a loss, it doesn’t say man that was an ugly win,” Ron Knepp said. “I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day. If you can play poorly and still win, that’s the sign of a good team.”
North Daviess 12 9 3 9 — 33
Linton 0 8 4 6 — 18
LINTON (18) — Johnson 1 1-2 1 3, Parker 0 1-2 3 1, Booe 1 0-0 2 3, Gadberry 1 3-6 2 5, Shafford 1 4-4 2 6, Dunn 0 0-0 0 0, Bowman 0 0-0 0 0
Totals 4 9-14 10 18
NORTH DAVIESS (33) — M. Knepp 5 1-3 1 14, Keith 1 1-4 0 3, Hollis 1 0-0 1 2, Smith 2 0-0 4 4, Spears 1 0-2 0 2, M. Schwartzentruber 2 0-0 1 4, Fitzgerald 0 0-0 1 0, Mallett 1 2-2 4 4
Totals 13 4-11 13 33
3-point goals: North Daviess 3 (Knepp), Linton 1 (Johnson)