If you build it, they will come.
In this case, “it” is a foundation and “they” are wins. Tuesday night’s game was the first step for the Lady Blazers towards defending their sectional championship. With three starters from last year’s team gone — Ali MacAllister and Hannah Meinen since graduated and Cassidy Stow has transferred to Muncie Burris — it’s definitely going to take some work to get back. But what Tuesday night showed is that the road to a fifth sectional in six years is right in front of these girls.
After the first quarter, the Lady Blazers had jumped out to a 6-2 lead over the Panthers, having played some energetic basketball with an emphasis on the defensive side. However, it only took a couple of minutes for Park Tudor senior guard Bailey Dominguez (who finished with 18 points) to start hitting some shots, putting PT up 9-7 just 100 seconds from the start of the quarter. The Panthers had stretched that lead to 17-11 at halftime and to 28-13 by the end of three.
But despite the eventual 18 point defeat, I walked away from College Avenue feeling good. What did this team prove? This team will out-hustle just about anyone. They go after the ball when on defense and look to attack on the offensive side. The Lady Trailblazers grabbed offensive boards through hustle all night and got to the free throw line 14 times, drawing 16 fouls on the Panthers. Most importantly though, the Blazers converted when they got to the line, going 10/14 from the stripe, an early improvement on last year’s numbers. And in the seven trips to the line, the Blazers never walked away without a point. Every couple of minutes it seemed Morgan Wood was somewhere on the floor drawing a foul, and her hustle and ability to get to the line will only mean good things for this team. Starting to get opponents in foul trouble is the first step any team can take towards winning a game. If this team can continue to get to the line and hit those free throws, they’ll find a good bit of success.
The shots didn’t fall Tuesday night for the Trailblazers, but we’ll all hope that they will come. University only managed 10 points through field goals, but the team didn’t create a lack of chances. The shots should fall, and when they do, the trifecta of Ellie Klemsz, Emily Johns, and Olivia West will only find more chances to get some easy points. Without the outside jumpers falling, PT was able to clog the middle with a tight 2-3 zone for most of the game, denying the ball to Ellie Klemsz at the free throw line on many occasions. When the shots fall, opposing teams will be forced to defend the wing more closely, opening up the backdoor (where the Blazers found early success) and/or the middle of the court. Victoria Overdorf’s continued to grow as a point guard for this team, making a very nice move to take it to hole to give the Blazers an early four point lead, and her continued development is integral to the Blazers’ success. Sharla Steiman can be expected to play a large role down the road as this team grows, and Lizzie Berry showed some good court vision, threading the needle to get the ball down low on the backdoor on multiple occasions. The aforementioned forward trio of Emily Johns, Ellie Klemsz, and Olivia West worked hard as always, playing the scrappy brand of basketball this program’s become known for and West should grow in well to the role vacated by Meinen to maintain a strong rotation that features three power forwards. Freshman Cyan Cosby was thrown into action some in the second half running the point, and her raw skill was immediately apparent; she will continue to grow as the season advances and as she gets more experience.
Last year, Park Tudor won this contest 43-21. This year’s result is not much different at all. The foundation is there. Especially at this level, a good foundation is built through being a scrappy team that lays it all on the line. The Blazers are exactly that, and as last year showed, Coach Summitt-Mann will be able to get the most out of the team, both from a talent and effort standpoint. With hard work, dedication, and the smarts that this team has, wins will surely come. Tuesday night confirmed something we all expected coming into this year: If this team is able to progress like last year’s team did, they should be in pole position entering Sectional 58 play once again.
The Lady Trailblazers are back in action this Friday night when they travel to Michigantown to face Clinton Central. JV tip-off is at 6:00 with the Varsity to follow at 7:30. The home opener is Friday, November 16, when the Blazers host Clinton Prairie on the Blaze Craze T-Shirt Launch Night. JV tip-off is slated for 6:00 with Varsity to follow at 7:30.
U – 6 – 11 – 13 – 20
PT – 2 – 17 – 28 – 38
Scoring: Johns 5, West 4, Wood 4, Klemsz 3, Berry 2, Overdorf 2
Assists: Wood 2, Berry 1, Johns 1
Rebounding: Wood 8, Klemsz 6, Johns 5, Berry 3, West 2, Overdorf 2, Steiman 1
Steals: Wood 5, Johns 3, Steiman 2, Orians 2, Klemsz 1
Blocks: Wood 1
Free Throws: Klemsz 75% (3/4), Johns 75% (3/4), Wood 67% (4/6) — TEAM: 71% (10/14)