For the Daily Journal
Jennings County came into Monday’s girls basketball game determined to stop Mackenzie Blazek. Whiteland showed the Panthers exactly why that’s not a good idea.
The Warriors bombed eight 3-pointers and pulled away in the second half to beat Jennings County 61-49 at home in girls basketball.
Blazek, the 6-foot-3 Indiana All-Star candidate who is headed to Illinois, still got her points, finishing the game with a game-high 16 points. But it was shooters Megan Harlow and Madelyn Napier who were the difference, hitting four treys each for the Warriors.
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“Last year Mackenzie had a really big game against those guys, and we thought they would come out and do a better job on her than last year and they did,” Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said. “We talked at halftime about passing up a good shot for a great shot, and I think in the third quarter we did that.”
Whiteland (15-4) never trailed, but it wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that it truly put Jennings away.
The Warriors started fast, building a 15-6 first quarter lead the Panthers came roaring back to pull within five (19-14) after one.
That theme played out all night. Every time Whiteland seemed to finally get some breathing room, Jennings crawled right back into the game.
“Our Achilles heel all year has not being able to put the last nail in the coffin, and we did that again tonight,” Shipp said. “We would get a 15 or 16-point lead and start to feel good, and Jennings would hit some shots.”
Jennings (4-13) trailed 26-14 late in the second quarter before a pair of Addyson Kent 3-pointers closed the gap and the Panthers trailed only 29-22 at the half.
Whiteland again built a big lead in the third, going ahead 38-24, but Jennings got back to within 10. Finally, in the fourth, the Warriors’ shooters came alive.
Harlow opened the final stanza with a pair of 3-pointers and Napier added a trey to push the Whiteland lead to 17 (54-37), its largest of the night. Napier added a final trey with 1:25 left to end any hopes of a Jennings comeback.
Harlow finished with 14 points and Napier had 12 to join Blazek in double figures for the Warriors. Toni Joyner just missed the group, scoring nine points in the first half to help Whiteland to its halftime lead.
Callie Wilder had 13 points, Kent scored 12 and Baylee Byford 10 to lead Jennings.
Whiteland has a long break until its next game, a Jan. 18 contest at Shelbyville. The Warriors will then close the regular season with four games in eight days.