BOONVILLE-- Ever since recording two straight losses to Gibson Southern and Heritage Hills in mid-November, the Princeton Community girls basketball team has been on a tear. They won their fifth straight game Thursday, defeating conference rival Boonville 63-55.
While much of the attention for the Lady Tigers has fallen upon sophomore Hannah Sisk, who coming into the night was averaging 19.8 points per contest, it was a more of a complete team effort Thursday as the Lady Tigers had three different girls score 12 points or more.
"I thought our posts did a pretty good job of kicking it back out. That's where a lot of our offense was created from was on those kick-outs, I just think we had such a balanced, team effort win tonight and I'm proud of the girls," Maners said.
Despite that, the game remained relatively close throughout and the opening portions of the game in particular were low scoring and tight. Princeton led 14-10 after one quarter, but that came after three minutes of defensive minded basketball. The second quarter came and the Lady Tigers were able to keep control of that lead into the break, thanks to a five point run from Sisk with less than 30 seconds to go in the half. The Lady Tigers led, 29-24.
Princeton came out of the locker room ready to go, and busted out for a 7-2 run to open up 10 point lead. However, the Lady Pioneers fought back, and were able to cut it to 44-38 heading into the final frame. Boonville has a magnificent underclassmen of their own in freshman Alaysha Brandenberger, who came into the contest averaging over 20 points per game. It was Avery Jones-Taylor who drew that assignment, and did a very good job on one of the area's best players.
"I thought we did really really good on her until like the last four minutes of the game. Then we got tired and comfortable a little bit. She's an exceptional basketball player, maybe one of the best in Southern Indiana. I thought Avery did a really good job frustrating her and most of all limiting her touches offensively," Maners said.
In that final quarter Princeton was able to stretch their lead to 14, but Brandenberger hit three 3-pointers and went for 11 points total in the frame. This kept Boonville in it towards the end, but Princeton was comfortable thanks to solid free throw shooting while the Lady Pioneers were fouling. With all that, it was the halfcourt offensive execution that impressed Maners the most.
"I think offensively we executed as best as we have all season long. We kept our turnovers down, didn't force shots, didn't force passes. I think everybody was almost a little too unselfish, the way they kind of passed and created for each other," Maners said.
Brandenberger finished with 21 points, but leading the way for both teams was Ramey Wilder who had 22 for Boonville. Princeton was led by guards Reaghan Page who had 16, Sisk who had 15 and Keona Louis who had 12. All three made big plays down the stretch, and Louis went 8-10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter alone to ice the game for the Lady Tigers.
Princeton is now 7-3 overall and 3-0 in Big Eight play, and a quiet confidence is building among the team as to their chances in conference and beyond. They are taking a one-game approach, but the five-game win streak has proven they won't be an easy team to deal with as the season moves along.
"I think we have a chance to compete against everybody in the Big Eight. We're certainly taking it one game at a time. We've made some mistakes along the way and we're just trying to improve each game and just taking it one game at a time."