For the Daily Journal
Whiteland’s girls basketball team got just what it wanted out of Wednesday’s Mid-State Conference opener at Decatur Central, and maybe more than it could have expected.
The Warriors’ star senior center, Mackenzie Blazek, faced double- and occasional triple-teams throughout the game, and took just seven shots to score eight points. But while Blazek was commanding the Hawks’ attention, other Whiteland players picked up the scoring slack.
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Three of Blazek’s teammates outscored her, and seven Warriors scored at least five points, as Whiteland used that balance and solid team defense to cruise to a 59-33 victory.
“We got good minutes and good production out of everybody,” Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said. “We talked about that after the Center Grove game (a 60-29 loss Saturday in the county championship game). We really needed to have more balanced scoring.”
In Saturday’s loss, Blazek scored 18 of Whiteland’s 29 points. On Wednesday, teammates Libby Baker (12), Megan Harlow (10) and Natalie Stuck (nine) outscored her. The Illinois recruit still managed to produce game-high totals in rebounds (10) and blocked shots (three).
Stuck began the Warriors’ efforts with three first-quarter 3-pointers, then Baker and Harlow began contributing. All of Harlow’s points came after the first quarter, while Baker controlled the floor game and added a few assists to go with her 12 points.
“Stuck did a nice job hitting shots in the first half, and then we had Libby stepping in there,” Shipp said. “We’ve got to be able to make people pay when they play that type of defense.”
Meanwhile, the Whiteland defense forced Decatur Central (3-2) into a 26.8 percent field-goal shooting effort (11 of 41) and 18 turnovers. The Warriors shot 21 of 48 from the floor (43.8 percent).
“Our defensive effort has been good all year, and we’re starting to find our rotations a little bit,” Shipp said of Whiteland, whose roster consists of just two seniors, Blazek and Michaela Adams. We’re starting to mold into the team we can be.”
Whiteland (5-1) took control early, scoring the last 10 points of the first quarter to build a 20-6 lead. The Warriors added a 7-0 run late in the first half to extend their lead to 33-13. After Decatur Central scored eight straight third-quarter points to trim the lead to 42-27, Whiteland scored the next 12 to make it 54-27 with 5:31 to play.
The Warriors are off until Tuesday, when they play at Roncalli.