Dover — It wasn’t the best effort the Class 4A No. 7 Zionsville Lady Eagles on Tuesday night at Western Boone, especially on the defensive end.
But at the end of the day, they were able to work through it, coming away with their sixth-straight win by a score of 81-61 over the Stars.
“There were two things that we wanted to get better at tonight and I didn’t think we did either one,” Zionsville head coach Andy Maguire said. “We wanted to work on our toughness and we wanted to improve. I don’t think we did either one tonight. It is disappointing. Yeah, we can put up a lot of points, but our defensive effort was not good at all. We are lucky in that we were bigger than them in every position and more athletic than them in a lot of positions; that is why we won. We have to be better than we were tonight in order to beat the teams we want to in the future.”
Maguire said he didn’t think the team played very well in their previous game either against Cardinal Ritter, despite winning 74-37.
He hopes that they can break out of their lull in the next couple of games when they hit the road against Westfield and Kokomo.
“Part of the regular season is that you learn from every experience,” Maguire said. “We have gone back-to-back games, where yeah we won by big margins, but we really didn’t give the effort that we need later on. We thought the girls would come out inspired and a little tougher than they did. It may just be the time of the year, but the next two days we really have to be focused because we have a tough HCC game against Westfield.”
On the other side of the court, despite the loss, it was a step forward for the Lady Stars.
After playing their worst games of the year on Friday at Tri-West, Western Boone shot better than 50 percent from the field against arguably the toughest team on their schedule.
“The one thing I have been waiting to see is for this teams identity to come out in terms of being scrappy, fighting, scratching and clawing for everything ,” Western Boone head coach Rich Schelsky said. “That is what we have to be to compete at the level we want to be at. We saw tonight that when we play like that, we can compete. You don’t like to lose, but Zionsville is a tremendously talented basketball team. They have weapons all over the court, great length, great speed, their long and have one of the best guard tandems in the state. They are just a great team.”
Zionsville used their size advantage to take control of the game early.
Delaney Richason scored six points in a 13-1 run in the first 2:14 of the game for the Lady Eagles. She had nine points and three rebounds in the first quarter as Zionsville led 26-15.
The Eagles rebounded four of their six missed shots and scored on every second possession they got.
Richason finished with nine rebounds, six offensive. Zionsville as a team had 17 offensive rebounds.
“Hopefully our kids learn a lot from that,” Schelsky said. “We are never going to make up the height difference, so we have to make it up with our feet and using our quickness to our advantage. We played zone in the first quarter, and once we went man after that, we really started to lock in and battled post position. We can do all that, but there will still be times it just doesn’t matter when we are giving up 6 to 8 inches in the post. There is only so much you can do.”
A basket by Callie Gubera and then a 3-pointer by Madison Jones brought Western Boone to within 26-20 in the opening 45 seconds of the second quarter. But Western Boone would get no closer.
The Eagles countered with a 9-0 run and led by 16 at the break.
While Zionsville’s offense was got slowed down in the second half, the Stars weren’t able to take advantage.
After shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Eagles shot 38.7 (12 of 31) in the second half, but Western Boone got no closer than 15 in the second half.
Jones led all scorers with 24 points and added five rebounds.
Gubera had 19 points and five rebounds, while Olivia Hole had 11 points.
It was a season-high for both Jones and Gubera.
“I thought she stepped up like a senior should,” Schelsky said of Gubera. “I think she understands it is it for her and her other two senior teammates. It is no secret that they were disappointed in how we played last Friday, but at the end of the day, maybe it was the best thing for us. Maybe we needed to hit rock bottom before going back up. We have to have Callie do what she did tonight to compete against some of these teams. I was really proud of her effort tonight.”
Rachel McLimore led the Eagles with 22 points. Richason had 18 points and nine rebounds, while Katie Isenbarger had 12 points and five rebounds.
Maddie Nolan added 12 points.
Richason was the bright spot, Maguire said.
“I thought Delaney did a really nice job,” Maguire said. “I thought she got fouled a lot inside too that didn’t get called. The last three games she has been really solid. She was a bright point. But outside of the that, I think our guards missed a lot of easy looks tonight and didn’t communicate very well on screens. Some of our better players didn’t step up tonight.”
Both the Eagles and Stars will hit the road for conference games on Friday.
Zionsville will travel to Westfield.
Both teams are undefeated in conference play. The Eagles are 2-0 and the Shamrocks are 1-0.
“Westfield plays a lot of kids and they are trying to figure it out,” Maguire said. “They don’t have anyone who scores a bunch of points, but they all shoot the three and are very sound in half-court defense. They are well-coached and it will be a tough game.”
Western Boone will travel to rival Lebanon for a 6 p.m. tip on Friday.
The Tigers have won four in a row and are 7-3 on the season.
“We have to win the battle of toughness and physicality,” Schelsky said. “You can throw skill and all that out the window; we have to win those battles to have a chance to win. Lebanon’s kids are tough and well coached. I think this is arguably Beth (DeVinney’s) best coaching job since she has been at Lebanon, I have really been appreciative of how they have played. To go in there and compete you have to be tough. To me that is the biggest key in us winning that game.”