Indiana knew the situation going into Thursday night’s game, and it was apparent to everyone at Fifth Street Gymnasium after just a few minutes of play: The Indians were in a major mismatch against a struggling Yough team.
Indiana rolled past the Cougars, 53-20, in a WPIAL Section 3-AAA game that was never in question, but the Indians still took steps to maintain a level of courtesy for their opponents.
“In this kind of game, especially our starters, they learn there are more important things than their scoring averages and rebounding averages,” Indiana coach Dave Woodall said. “They learn compassion and they learn sportsmanship. They’re excellent kids with that.”
Indiana (15-3, 9-1 section) won its 12th game in a row. Yough fell to 2-16 overall and 0-10 in the section. Indiana beat the Cougars, 61-19, at Yough on Jan. 10 and knew what it was in for back at home Thursday.
The Indians opened the game on a 26-3 run, led 36-5 at the half and were ahead by as many as 38, 43-5, in the third quarter. Three consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter finally pulled Yough into double digits.
It was apparent the Indians weren’t trying to run up the score, though. Instead, they dug deep into their bench and distributed the ball to less-experienced scorers. All 17 Indiana players appeared in the game.
“It’s a good opportunity for everyone to get their reps in,” reserve senior guard Holli Sottile said.
Kaitlyn Hoff scored 10 points, a game high, to lead Indiana, but she reached the mark in the first half alone and quickly started dishing the ball to everyone else on the floor. Nine other Indiana players scored in the game.
“Obviously, you could see that kind of thing,” Woodall said. “Kaitlyn Hoff was passing up her shots to give them to kids that don’t always get in the ballgame. Those are the important things.”
“We all work together, the whole team,” Sottile said. “We just help each other. If one person’s not having their best game, someone else will help them out.”
Mismatched games and lopsided scores can be a touchy subject in high school athletics. It’s been especially relevant in the WPIAL recently, after Ford City shut out Leechburg, 56-0, last Monday.
“It’s not important how many we win by or how many they score or whatever,” Woodall said. “If you coach long enough, you’ve been on that end of the spectrum as well, so you understand that sort of thing, and you do your best to try to keep things under control and make it a meaningful game for everybody, at least somewhat.”
Indiana visits Ligonier Valley in a non-conference game tonight.
The Indians have three games next week, including two section games that could decide their fate in regard to the Section 3-AAA championship. Indiana is tied atop the section standings with Mount Pleasant (11-7, 8-1) and split the season series with the Vikings. The Indians visit Greensburg Salem on Monday and welcome Uniontown for Senior Night on Thursday. Indiana concludes the regular season with a non-conference game at Slippery Rock on Saturday, Feb. 8.
“Next week’s going to be huge for us,” Woodall said. “The rest of the games are going to be pretty meaningful for us as far as playoff seeding and everything else.”