OAKLAND CITY-- While they may have started the season in opposite ways, you couldn't tell in Friday night's girls basketball contest between Gibson Southern and Wood Memorial.
The Lady Titans, coming off a season opening 94-40 loss to Castle, defeated the Lady Trojans, 54-19. Wood Memorial had begun their season with a 45-27 win over Perry Central. Both teams now sit at 1-1.
It was intense defensive pressure, combined with balanced scoring, that got Gibson Southern going early. The Lady Titans led 15-2 after the first quarter, courtesy of five points from junior forward Meredith Raley and six points from sophomore guard Kami Miller. Stifling on-ball defense from the backcourt duo of Maci Foster and Shay Whitten kept Wood Memorial at bay.
"One thing I've always believed, you can control your defense. You can control the intensity and effort you give. Shooting unfortunately a lot of times is game to game, and if we can have that kind of defensive intensity... we could be very very good," Gibson Southern coach Kyle Brasher said.
The Lady Trojans were not helped by early foul trouble, as sophomore point guard Madison Frederick picked up two quick ones in the opening frame, forcing Wood Memorial coach Johnnie Bartley to go to his bench early.
"Frederick picks up two quick fouls, and you know we don't really have a whole lot of ball-handling depth. Her sitting down, that really kind of got us going the wrong direction. I think she might have played two minutes tonight," Bartley said.
Frederick would pick up her third foul in the second frame, as she had to deal with foul trouble all night. The Lady Titans took advantage, stretching the lead to 20 at half.
The third quarter came, and the Gibson Southern starters, seeing the majority of their final minutes of the night, were able to get the lead up to 42-10 by the end of the frame. This was in part due to the balanced scoring effort, as the Lady Titans saw nine different players score a point. Tabby Klem, the leading returning scorer for the Lady Titans, was held scoreless for the evening. Brasher feels this speaks to his depth, and Klem's ability to be productive without having to score.
"If you look at our top eight, any number of those girls can come out and lead us in scoring any given night. We got shooters all across the board," Brasher said.
"One thing you'll notice, we keep track of deflections, assists, steals and offensive rebounds. We have a hard hat game award, and even though Tabby didn't score, she still came in second place in that. While she didn't put points on the scoreboard, she definitely affected the game in other ways."
The fourth quarter saw Wood Memorial have more success, especially on offense, as they scored nine points as a team, almost equaling their output for the first three quarters combined. A Gretchen Reel 3-pointer and Sydney Lamar three points paced Wood Memorial in that quarter.
"After a really good start by them, we kind of did settle down a little bit. There was a while where I thought we were competing. We missed some really good opportunities to score," Bartley said. "Matchups were tough for us tonight, trying to matchup with their personnel."
Leading the way for Gibson Southern was Whitten who had 11 points, while Miller pitched in 10. Raley finished with nine and Foster had seven. Wood Memorial was led by Reel who had six points and Lamar who had five.
Neither team has much time to dwell on the evening's proceedings, as both will move back to their respective classes to play ranked teams in each Saturday. The Lady Titans will host 3A No. 8 Vincennes Lincoln at 12:30 p.m.
"Even in the sectional championship, you at least play the next night, so turning around and playing again in 15 hours, we wanted to make sure we got as much girls rest as possible," Brasher said.
Wood Memorial gets the luxury of welcoming in 1A No.1 Vincennes Rivet for a 7 p.m. tip, led by Evansville University commit Grace Waggoner.
"We talked about it. We can't sit here and feel sorry for ourselves, because the team we play tomorrow is just as good as the one we saw tonight. We talked about learning from this one a little bit, the intensity that we got to play with, and take that into tomorrow night," Bartley said.