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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Indiana girls win seventh in a row

by ELI NELLIS eli@indianagazette.net on January 15, 2014 10:39 AM

Indiana is on a roll. And, with some crucial games coming up later in January and in February, it’s a great time for the Indians to come into their own.

The Indiana girls’ basketball team won its seventh in a row, cruising past Freeport, 64-27, in a WPIAL Class AAA non-section game Tuesday night at Fifth Street Gymnasium.

During its winning streak, Indiana (10-3) has won by an average of 29.0 points. Following a 14-point victory at Uniontown on Monday, the Indians got back to their dominant ways, building a secure lead early on.

“It’s a combination of things,” Indiana coach Dave Woodall said. “We were playing really well before the Christmas break, and then we had like 10 days off, and then we played again and had another seven days off, so it’s taken a while for us to get back together. … We’re starting to get to that place where we were before Christmas where we were playing well. Tonight was not a complete game for us. Defensively it was, but not offensively, but it was a step in the right direction.”

“We’re all playing as one,” freshman guard Jess Stever said. “It’s more teamwork than individuals playing by themselves.”

Indiana visits Southmoreland on Thursday, then plays host to Mount Pleasant on Monday in an anticipated rematch with WPIAL Section 3-AAA title implications. The Vikings handed the Indians their only section loss, 49-45, on Dec. 16.

Indiana hasn’t lost since then.

“They’re all really fun girls to play with,” said Stever, Tuesday night’s leading scorer with 16 points. “No one every puts anyone else down, and whenever you’re not having a good game, they’ll be there to bring you up.”

The Indians held Freeport (6-7) to 27.7 percent (13 of 47) shooting and forced 27 turnovers. Indiana’s offense came and went — the Indians scored 13 points in the second and third quarters combined — but the defense was a constant, keeping the Indians comfortably ahead throughout.

Junior Abbey Karcher held Zoe Soilis, one of the Yellowjackets’ top scorers, to 10 points. Freeport’s Macy Smolic, guarded by senior Kaitlyn Hoff, scored just three points.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting a score like that,” Woodall said. “We saw them play, and they played very, very hard. … Abbey Karcher did a wonderful job on (Soilis). I was expecting a close game, but we got things going early, then the middle two quarters we didn’t do a whole lot. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times, but then we played a little better offensively in the fourth quarter. But that’s us. We win on defense. We played great defense all game, and to hold a team like that to 27 points, that’s pretty good.”

Indiana shot 32.1 percent (27 of 78). The Indians had a few scoring droughts mid-game, but Stever and Lucy Bujdos, who added 15 points, consistently stepped up to add to the lead, all the while the Indians didn’t budge on the other end of the floor.

“It’s nice to have that happen,” Woodall said of being in control of the game. “It certainly didn’t happen last night down at Uniontown. The girls live and die on defense. You can have a bad shooting night, but you should never have a bad defensive night. If they are having a bad shooting night or things aren’t going their way offensively, they don’t let that bother them. They just play hard on defense, and we get a defensive rebound or a steal or a deflection, and then we turn that into easy points.”

Indiana played on back-to-back nights for the second time in a six-day span, also having played last Thursday and Friday. The Indians have Southmoreland (2-4, 4-8 section), but more importantly come next week, Mount Pleasant (8-4, 6-0), to focus on next.

“We always preach one game at a time,” Woodall said. “We’ll be working tomorrow in practice a little on Southmoreland, but we’ll also be starting on Mount Pleasant. We know we have to play really well to beat them. That’s got to be on everybody’s minds. That’s the game coming up that looms big for us. We can preach all we want about Southmoreland, but I know they’re going to be thinking about Mount Pleasant.”

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