For the Daily Journal
In a fast-paced, occasionally sloppy game, Beech Grove’s two girls basketball standouts proved to be barely enough to overcome Whiteland’s one Thursday.
The Hornets’ Katie Giller and Cameron Cardenas combined for 48 points and 19 rebounds, which helped offset Whiteland’s Mackenzie Blazek’s dominance. Blazek scored 30 points and pulled down a season-high 23 rebounds, but it wasn’t quite enough as the host Warriors suffered a 53-50 nonconference loss.
Beech Grove (14-2) led 42-29 with 6:19 to play, but Whiteland (8-10) mounted a furious comeback, thanks in large part to Blazek. She scored 13 of her 30 points in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors whittled the deficit down to two points twice but couldn’t get any closer.
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The Hornets seemed to have the game put away with 17.7 seconds to go, when Giller converted a three-point play off a Whiteland turnover. That gave Beech Grove a 53-48 lead.
But Whiteland’s Ashley West converted a putback basket with six seconds left. Blazek then stole a long inbounds pass and West got a good look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key, but the shot missed long and time ran out before the Warriors could attempt another.
Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp lamented unforced turnovers and missed free throws early in the game as the primary culprits in the loss. The Warriors committed 19 turnovers, several of which were unforced, and hit just 2 of 6 first-half free throws and 12 of 20 overall.
“We shaped up on the free throws a little late, but at the beginning, middle and end of the game, those turnovers killed us,” Shipp said. “We struggled to get the ball to Mackenzie in the second and third quarters. We took good shots; we just didn’t knock them down.”
Blazek scored 23 points in the first and fourth quarters, but just seven in the second and third periods. Not coincidentally, that’s when Beech Grove was most dominant. The Hornets outscored Whiteland 29-14 in the second and third periods combined, while Whiteland controlled the first and fourth quarters, outscoring Beech Grove 36-24.
Sidney Crowe added 11 points for Whiteland, but the rest of the team combined for just nine. The Warriors shot 18 of 55 overall (32.7 percent).
Whiteland, which plays again Saturday at New Palestine, is in the midst of a three-games-in-six-days stretch. Shipp hopes it will be good sectional preparation.
“This is a good evaluation point,” he said. “At the end of this game, it was kind of like a sectional game.”