On a night when scoring was difficult, the Whiteland girls basketball team closed out its regular season with an exceptional defensive performance.
The Warriors forced 25 turnovers and limited host Greenfield-Central to just 11 made baskets on the way to a 46-32 win.
Pressing off of made baskets, Whiteland forced six turnovers and turned a 6-2 deficit into a 17-8 lead during a four-minute stretch. Senior Michaela Harris scored seven of her nine first-half points during that span.
Whiteland took a 21-14 lead into halftime and appeared to be on its way to an easy win until the Warriors ran into offensive issues of their own.
They went ice cold from the field and endured a four-minute scoring drought in the third quarter. The Cougars crept as close as 24-21 with 3:37 to play in the period before three Warriors seniors put the game away.
Harris hit a free throw and grabbed an offensive rebound, Kaitlyn Phillips hit a 3-pointer and a free throw and Chelsea Perry drilled a triple to push the lead back to 32-24 at the end of the quarter.
Greenfield-Central never closed within eight points in the final period.
Coach Kyle Shipp said he expected the Warriors’ pressure to be the difference in the game.
“We really thought our pressure would hurt them, and at times it did,” he said. “Our objective was to turn them over and convert at the rim.”
In addition to its defense, Whiteland won the rebounding battle, 36-33, after struggling on the boards in recent games.
Harris led the Warriors (10-11) with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Perry scored 14 points while Phillips added 12. It was a struggle on offense for Whiteland, though. The Warriors hit only 12 of 47 shots (25.5 percent) and missed 10 of 29 free throws.
Shelby Oldham led the Cougars (8-11) with eight points.
Now the Warriors take 10 days to practice and rest before Franklin Sectional play Feb. 8 against the winner of next Tuesday’s Greenwood-Franklin game.
Shipp said the layoff comes at the perfect time for Whiteland.
“We’re kind of beat up so we’re going to take this time and get ourselves healthy,” he said. “We’ll use that time to fine tune some things and I believe that is going to be beneficial for this team to get that time off and get rested.”