By Nick Gonnella Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — The North Decatur girls basketball team closed out the first half of the regular season with a 54-31 win over visiting Switzerland County Saturday.
The Lady Chargers, winners of four of their past five, improve to 7-3 after the win over a potential sectional opponent.
The Chargers built a 14-9 first-quarter lead and went into halftime ahead 22-16. Senior Anna Wallpe set the tone early with 12 points in the first eight minutes. Head coach Brad Bryant said he was pleased to see North establish the inside game early.
“We talked about this, and the difference coming in was, we were a lot bigger and stronger,” he said. “We did a really good job of making the effort to get the ball inside.”
Senior Ali Wallpe started the third quarter by converting a 3-point play, but the Pacers (4-5) lingered until late in the third quarter. The visitors pulled to within five, but freshman Chelsea Hitchcock started a 14-6 run with a layup. Despite the temporary absence of a senior, Hitchcock came off the bench and impressed North’s coaching staff. She finished with four points, marking the third straight game she has scored. Despite coming up short from 3-point range, Hitchcock did not hesitate to release shots.
“She got looks,” said Bryant. “Once she settled down, she just looked confident out there. That helps us down the road come tournament time, Chelsea getting minutes.”
Highlighting the third quarter was a triple by sophomore Mary Hughes, a basket by junior Laura Haunert, and four straight points from Anna Wallpe.
Coming off the bench, senior Myra Steele helped the offense stay in rhythm. Hughes took a pass from Steele and hit another triple that put North up by 15, 44-29, with 5:15 left. North scored the next six points and 15 of the last 17 in the game.
Hughes matched a career-high in scoring with 12. She has averaged more than eight points in her last three games, with multiple triples.
“Her shooting’s starting to come around,” said Bryant.
Following the game, Bryant noticed a rare but positive statistic. Despite wanting his team to get itself to the foul line more often, Bryant saw that Switzerland County did not make a single trip to the line Saturday.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever coached a basketball game where a team did not attempt a single free throw,” he said. “Maybe that’s a sign that we’re playing a lot smarter basketball.” In a drill during a recent practice, the players held a towel behind their back to get themselves used to not using their hands while defending.
“We’ve been fouling so much, whether it’s in our man or zone, that we’ve been talking about it,” he said.
Bryant credited senior Andrea Volk for strengthening her defense in the past few games.
“Our last two games, she’s been in foul trouble,” said Bryant. However, the three-year starter has proven to be one of North’s best defenders.
“She does a really good job in the zone,” said Bryant. “She really anticipates in the zone, and ends up with a lot of steals and deflections.”
Anna Wallpe finished with a game-high 22. Hughes followed with 12, including a pair of triples. Ali Wallpe scored nine, hitting 3-for-3 at the foul line.
“Any time we get nine points from Ali, that’s a great thing,” said Bryant.
Haunert and Hitchcock added four. Sophomore Sam Krieger added two, and senior Emma Geis chipped in one.
Junior Eve Galbreath led the Pacers with 12 points.
The North JV team fell to the Pacers 33-23. Three girls led the Chargers in scoring. Addy Osting, Morgan Mauer and Ashlin Weintraut each scored four points. Olivia Siefert and Hitchcock each scored three. Meredith Fogle and Ally Gauck scored two apiece, while Morgan McKinney added a free throw.
The Lady Chargers will rest for the holiday before taking on Tree City rival Greensburg Friday night at home.
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.