DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Monica Collins was the “energy bug” for Whiteland in its 60-47 girls basketball victory against Southport on Friday night.
For the visiting Cardinals, she was a total pest, scoring a game-high 21 points in a substitute role to lift the Warriors to their second victory of the holiday week.
Whiteland took control in the second quarter, blanketing Southport with a hard-nosed defense and hitting its free throws, and went on to improve to 6-7 while dropping Southport to the same mark.
“We call her our energy bug,” Warriors’ coach Kyle Shipp of the senior catalyst. “When she comes off the bench, we know she’s going to do some good things for us.
“But I couldn’t be prouder of our entire team. When I look down through the book, we got great contributions by everybody.”
Shipp was especially pleased the Warriors never eased up against a Cardinals team that made a bid to rally in the third period — neither on offense nor defense.
“Down the stretch, we did a really good job of hitting our free throws, taking care of the basketball and continuing to attack the basket,” Shipp said. “On defense, I applaud the ladies for their entire defensive effort.
“That’s a solid basketball team (Southport) and our defense against them was tremendous.”
Neither team shot well in the opening quarter, which the hosts led 10-9 at the end. But Whiteland took command in the second period as Collins tallied 10 of her game-best points, and the Warriors held the Cardinals to just 2-of-10 shooting and six points.
Southport trimmed a nine-point deficit to just four early in the third quarter when Emma DeHart hit a 3-point basket to make it 26-22. But Collins answered with a three and another hoop, and junior Sydney Mize added a trey to help the Warriors take a 12-point advantage into the final eight minutes.
Backing Collins, who had five rebounds, for the Warriors were freshman center Mackenzie Blazek with 12 points and a game-best 13 rebounds, and junior Kate White with 11 points.
Whiteland shot 45.0 percent overall and hit 6 of 13 3-point attempts.
Senior guard Alexa Walker was the only Cardinal to score double-digit points with 12 and grabbed 11 rebounds. Southport hit just 15 of 47 shots in all for 31.9 percent.
Shipp was especially pleased to see his team not lapse into a play-not-to-lose mode in the fourth quarter.
“We’re still learning how to win and we’re finding ways to win,” Shipp said. “Tonight it was just keep-it-going. I was pleased with the way we executed and did some good things at the end.”
Whiteland’s next game is Jan. 6 at county rival Center Grove.