By Will Willems
DOVER — Western Boone’s home opener didn’t go as planned Tuesday night.
Class 4A No. 5 Plainfield showed why they were one of the top teams in the state, putting three girls in double figures as they topped the Lady Stars 59-46.
“They are really tough to defend, especially if you have to go man,” Western Boone head coach Rich Schelsky said. “They have some match-up nightmares out there. (Riley) Blackwell can play inside and outside and is a great athlete. (Kayla) Casteel is another DI player that can score in a variety of ways. You can tell they have played a lot of basketball, not just in basketball season. They play the right way and that is what makes them so good. I have a great appreciation for how they play the game and the things they get done on the court.”
The win dropped Western Boone to 1-1 on the year. Plainfield improved to 5-0, with their last four wins coming by double-digits.
“I thought we played really well,” Plainfield head coach Curt Benge said. “I have a lot of respect for them. They are very well coached and they play really hard. I thought we did what we needed to do to counter-act their scrappiness. We utilized our inside game to get shots from the outside.”
Plainfield scored the first eight points of the game, but Western Boone countered with a 10-2 run to tie the score on a basket by Kendra Nicley with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
Blackwell hit two elbow jumpers in the final 90 seconds of the first quarter to give the Quakers a 4-point lead before they pulled away before the half.
Plainfield dominated the second quarter, out-scoring Western Boone 15-4. The Stars shot just 2 of 11 from the field and turned it over six times in the period.
“It all boiled down to turnovers and them scoring in transition,” Schelsky said. “Even though we got off to a rough start, we really didn’t give up that many transition points in the first quarter. But our inability to take care of the basketball in the second quarter let them get in transition and we couldn’t set a defense up. You have to give them credit. They are a great team, well coached, they played hard and do everything you want a team to do. We got a lesson tonight.”
The defense continued to give Western Boone problems in the third quarter.
Olivia Hole hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to make it 34-20, but the Stars went 1 for their next seven and turned it over five more times, allowing Plainfield to take a 46-24 lead late in the third quarter.
“We really wanted to make things difficult on (Madison Jones), their point guard,” Benge said. “We wanted to make sure that we stayed on their shooters. We wanted to keep them off-balance and kept them guessing. I think it had an affect on them.”
Western Boone battled back in the fourth quarter, especially late, but never got within striking distance.
The Stars shot better than 50 percent in the second half overall.
“It wasn’t perfect, but I thought we got out in transition more,” Schelsky said of his team’s second half. “When we are playing a really good defense team, we have to find ways to score and we have to get in transition. We did that better in the second half. But at the same time, we have some things that we need to clean up in our house. Our kids have to understand the worth of varsity basketball, they have to be coachable and all of that.”
Blackwell led all players with 20 points and pulled down six rebounds. Casteel had 16 points and seven rebounds, while Kaiah Haberkorn had 10 points.
Samantha Olinger had nine points.
“I thought we did a really good job of finding people in positions to score,” Benge said. “We got a little sloppy at times, but it is improving and getting better.”
Callie Gubera led the Stars with 12 points and seven rebounds. Kendra Nicley added nine points and eight rebounds, while Hole had eight points.
While the Stars had multiple girls step up at different periods of the game, they were unable to get going as a unit.
“It’s something that is going to get better as the season goes on,” Schelsky said. “We don’t get the head start in the summer like some of the bigger schools do and we are playing a little bit of catch up right now. A lot of it is getting used to playing at varsity speed and the only way you get that is experience. We have to continue to push ourselves harder in practice and make sure we are ready for varsity speed.”
Western Boone will play in the Sugar Creek Classic this weekend.
They start off at 6 p.m. on Friday against North Montgomery at Southmont. The Lady Stars have won the Sugar Creek Classic the past seven years.
“We have to come out with a lot different mindset than we did tonight,” Schelsky said. “We are probably going in as the favorite, but I’m not convinced we should be. We haven’t played as many games as some of the other teams and we have to do a lot of things better than we did tonight. Our half-court offense, our pace of play, our effort and concentration on defense all has to get better if we want to achieve our goal this weekend.”