After losing four straight games, the Whiteland girls basketball team registered a signature win against host Jennings County, 49-42, Thursday night.
In their previous contest, the Warriors came out on the wrong end of a buzzer-beating 43-42 victory by county rival Greenwood.
Returning to practice at the first of the week, first-year coach Kyle Shipp had a straightforward message: “Let’s get back to work.”
Up against a Panthers team that had a distinct height advantage, Whiteland patiently worked for shots and then added a strong second-half defense that kept it on top.
“We have played a lot of close games in the last two weeks, so I think that’s teaching us how to win basketball games,” Shipp said. “Once we get stops and value the basketball, we have good player movement and good ball movement. Then we look for a score, so that was a huge win.”
Throughout the first half, Jennings County dominated down low with forwards Emma Campbell and Baylee Krueger.
But the Warriors kept things close and led 12-10 at the first stop and 20-16 at the half.
Every time Whiteland needed a bucket, the ball went to senior guard Chelsea Perry. On the wing or in the corner, Perry connected on 5 of 8 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points.
Whiteland maintained a two-point edge at the end of the third quarter at 30-28 when freshman guard Kate White hit a short jumper.
The Warriors stingy defense forced Jennings County into a total of 19 turnovers, six in the third quarter.
The Panthers took a brief lead at 30-29, but back came Perry with another 3-pointer. Tied at 37-all, Perry hit another trey to put the Warriors up 40-37.
Perry had one more triple to go with a steal and fast-break layup to seal the win.
“Chelsea said in the huddle, ‘Here we go’. She really put us on her back and hit some huge shots. It’s fun to watch whenever she’s knocking them down,” Shipp said.
For the game, Whiteland hit 19 of 43 from the floor for 44.1 percent, compared to Jennings County’s 36.1 percent (17 of 47).
Senior guard Jordyn Francis added nine points for the Warriors. Topping the Panthers (5-8) was Campbell with 12 points and six rebounds.
Whiteland (7-9) resumes play at home against Shelbyville next Thursday.