Sophomore center powers Warriors to win


It was a normal night for Whiteland sophomore center Mackenzie Blazek, and that’s a good thing.

The 6-foot-2 Blazek delivered 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in the Warriors’ 41-26 triumph against host Shelbyville on Thursday night in girls high school basketball action.

“Mackenzie does what Mackenzie normally does,” said Warriors coach Kyle Shipp, whose team improved to 11-8. “We found her early to get us going. I really wanted to find her a little bit more in the second half than we did.”

Blazek had 11 of the Warriors’ 14 points in the first half as they led 14-7 at halftime. The Warriors led 9-5 after the first quarter.

“We started off kind of slow but we played really good defense, which helps,” Blazek said. “My team was doing a really good job of getting me the ball. We just worked off that inside-out game.

“It was kind of physical in the beginning, but we got through it.”

Shipp was pleased Blazek sank all five free-throw attempts.

“I liked the way (Blazek) distributed the ball when they collapsed on her and she found her teammates,” Shipp said.

Shipp said it was a good total team victory.

“It was a good defensive effort,” Shipp said. “We did what we needed to win a basketball game.”

The Golden Bears (10-9) managed just six baskets, including one 3-pointer. Shelbyville was 13 of 22 from the foul line. Morgan Parker was high scorer for the Golden Bears with seven points.

After the slow start offensively, Shipp said the Warriors managed a nice run in the third quarter to expand the lead to 31-13.

“That separated us a little, but credit to them, they played really hard,” Shipp said. “Their offensive rebounding in the first half hurt us a little bit, but other than that I thought it was a good victory.”

After a slow start from the field, Warriors senior forward Kate White scored six of her eight points.

“Kate was a little riled up at the start, but she found her groove in the second half,” Shipp said. “She’s a good defender, and I was happy to see her get going a little bit in the second half.”

The Warriors were 14 of 24 from the free-throw line.

Whiteland has three more regular-season games before the Class 4A sectional begins at Center Grove, starting at Franklin (8-12) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The Warriors host Class 4A No. 1 Columbus North (19-1) on Tuesday and close with visiting Mooresville (16-4) on Jan. 29

Blazek said those will be good tests.

“I feel like we’re doing really well right now,” Blazek said. “We still have some practices to get in, and that will help us. I feel like we’re going to be really ready.”

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.