Whiteland’s girls basketball team kept visiting Decatur Central to 30.8 percent field-goal shooting Wednesday and limited the Hawks to just 25 points in the final three quarters.
But that wasn’t enough to overcome the Warriors’ own shooting woes and a rough first quarter in the Mid-State Conference opener for both teams.
Whiteland fell behind 21-8 early in the second quarter and played Decatur Central dead even after that, but couldn’t catch up to the Hawks in a 44-30 conference loss.
“I can’t speak loudly enough about the defensive effort we gave after the first quarter,” Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said. “That’s two games in a row at home that we’ve come out flat. We’ve got to find a way to get more people involved, and we’ve got to get more people scoring.”
The Warriors also need to get healthy.
Senior starter Kaitlyn Phillips missed the game because of a hand injury that required her to wear a cast. Michaela Harris played in severe discomfort with a shoulder injury, and she also missed about four minutes in the third and fourth quarters after landing awkwardly on her ankle while going for a rebound.
Harris returned to the game and managed nine points and a team-high eight rebounds, but the Warriors only played seven players, and only three (Harris, Jordyn Francis and Chelsea Perry) scored.
“It all comes back to practice. We’ve got to see results there,” Shipp said, explaining why more players haven’t secured varsity minutes. “That’s a mentality we’re trying to build, and we’re working on that.”
The Hawks (2-2) built their lead thanks largely to its defensive pressure and size advantage. Their full-court press helped force Whiteland into eight first-quarter turnovers and 25 overall, and Decatur Central grabbed 36 rebounds to the Warriors’ 23. The Hawks’ 5-foot-11 Haley Pace grabbed 14 rebounds to go with her game-high 13 points.
“That was her breakout game of the year,” Hawks coach Anthony Mann said. “When she wants to play, she brings it. I think our 1-2-2 (press) hurt them, and we were able to get out and run.”
The Warriors trimmed the lead to 34-25 on a Francis free throw with 5:46 remaining, which completed a 7-0 run, but it took Whiteland 4:48 to score those points. They only managed five points the rest of the way.
Francis led the Warriors with 11 points, including 7 of 11 from the free-throw line. Perry added 10, and Annie Polley grabbed five rebounds. Whiteland shot 10 of 32 from the floor, a 31.3-percent clip.
Whiteland drew Decatur Central into the bonus with a minute to play in the third quarter, setting itself up for several potential free-throw opportunities, but failed to capitalize.
“We tried to really focus on attacking them after that, but we turned it over too many times to get to the free-throw line,” Shipp said. “A lot of our turnovers didn’t happen because of the press. They happened because of a bad decision we made after we broke the press.”
Whiteland plays another Mid-State game Saturday when it travels to Martinsville.