Western Boone head coach Megan Alexander knew that Plainfield was going to be a high-level test for her Lady Stars.
Her team passed the test with flying colors. Western Boone out-scored the visiting Quakers 11-5 in the final three minutes, and improved to 3-1 with a 63-56 victory.
“Before the game, we told the girls that no body plays harder than us on our own floor,” Alexander said. “This was going to be a sectional-like environment, and we couldn’t recreate in practice what we were going to see. We have worked on finishing out games, we worked on different scenarios in practice and they did a great job of handling that pressure.”
Hillary Reed split a pair of free throws to put the Stars up one. Western Boone was able to step up its defense, getting stops on three-straight possessions, and pushed the lead to six on a runner by Kara Brewer and two more free throws by Reed.
Plainfield got within three on a 3-pointer by Sarah O’Day, but Reed and Brewer were perfect from the line in the final minute to keep the Quakers at bay.
Western Boone was 12 of 15 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
“In practice we try to put a lot of pressure on their shooting,” Alexander said. “We ended practice yesterday with someone shooting a lay-up, someone shooting a foul shot and a 3-pointer for significant running, just to put them in the pressure situation. We talked to them about wanting to be that person and having confidence in that moment. It paid off today.”
Early on, Western Boone wasn’t able to get anything going offensively.
Western Boone made just two of its first 17 shots from the field, but were only down 12-10 after that stretch because of the way they were playing defense.
The Stars forced 10 first-half turnovers and after Plainfield started 3-of-5 from the field, the Quakers missed 15 of their next 17 shots.
“A lot of our misses were easy lay-ups and we just kept encouraging them to keep the energy up on defense,” Alexander said. “If we would have made some of those easy buckets, we should of had a nice lead because of our defense. We kept trying to tell the girls where we could be if we just made the easy shots. I think that kept them motivated and engaged defensively.”
The message worked in the final 5:03 of the first half.
Tori Wilkinson’s three-point play ignited a 15-1 run that pushed the Western Boone lead to 25-13 and they led by nine at the half.
Western Boone held that nine-point lead until late in the third quarter, when the Quakers used an 8-0 run to get back in the game. The Stars led by four at the end of the third quarter, but the Quakers tied the game a minute into the fourth.
The two teams battled back-and-forth until the final stretch.
Brewer added 12 points, Reed had 10 and Lauryn Florey had seven. Alexander said that was the balance the team is looking for.
“We have talked about balanced scoring since the middle of last season,” Alexander said. “The majority of these girls know they are going to be contributors too. Madison is doing a good job of getting them involved, she moved the ball well. They were double-teaming Madison, so she got the ball to the open player and the girls executed well.”
Western Boone will play in the Sugar Creek Classic this weekend.
The Stars open up with North Montgomery at 6 p.m. Friday.
The games will be played at Crawfordsville.
Western Boone has won nine-straight Sugar Creek Classics and 10 of the 11 ever played. They are 21-1 all-time in the event.
“We have to rebound a little better and we have to put pressure with our press without fouling,” Alexander said. “We had some foul trouble today and Tori fouled out. We have to be able to apply pressure without fouling.”