Warriors run past Panthers

Free throws and a key 3-pointer by senior Kate White late in the fourth quarter allowed the Whiteland girls basketball to defeat visiting Jennings County 58-53 on Monday.

“Real good game. Very close and our girls were resilient,” Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said. “Give credit to (Jennings County), though. They made the proper adjustments on defense and gave us a hard time, but the girls battled and came through with this win.”

Almost immediately, the game progressed into a track meet.

Whiteland wanted to run on Jennings County, and the Panthers in turn wanted to see if the Warriors could keep up.

Both teams also exhibited some pressure throughout on defense, but it was clear the winner might turn out to be who made the fewest errors.

The running game stopped short of a full-fledged run-and-gun, but the fast pace and passing did benefit Jennings County’s outside shooting at first.

Panthers shooters connected on seven first-half 3-point shots, which kept them in the game against Whiteland.

The Warriors simply tossed the ball to 6-foot-2 sophomore center Mackenzie Blazek, who connected on virtually all her short shots against no opposition.

“Mackenzie had some really good moves out there,” Shipp said. “The girls found her and hit her, and she put the ball in. Mackenzie shot really well.”

Jennings County held a lead of five, but Blazek’s baskets plus some perfect first-half free-throw shooting gave the Warriors the lead at halftime, though it was only by a basket, 35-33.

It was less of a running game in the second half, with both teams slowing it up and keeping it close.

In the fourth quarter, the Warriors and Panthers were tied four times, and Jennings County took the lead for the first time in the half on two free throws with 6:28 to play.

The score was tied again when White hit her ‘3’ from the left corner to give Whiteland the lead for good with 2:46 to play.

Jennings County, which hit nearly every triple in the first half, went cold at the wrong time, missing three straight in the final two minutes.

Those missed shots and some clutch free throws by the Warriors ended the game.

Blazek led the Warriors with 20 points. Junior guard Sidney Crowe added 15 points, while White had 11 for the winners.

Sharp-shooting sophomore guard Brooklyn Gaines had 20 points for Jennings County, while teammate Shelbi Wright added 17 before fouling out.

Whiteland snapped a two game losing streak in beating the non-conference Panthers.

Jennings County dropped below the .500 mark at 9-10, while the Warriors are now 9-7.

Up next for the Warriors is another nonconference test, this time at Beech Grove on Thursday night.

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Ken Severson is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.