MP girls eke out win over Rockets
Every shot, every steal and every rebound counted in the Mt. Pleasant girls’ basketball game Tuesday as the Panthers eked out a 53-50 win over a good Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont team.
Mt. Pleasant knew it had a formidable foe in the Rockets, who are led by Tasha Alexander.
Alexander averages more than 20 points per game, many which come from fast breaks — going into yesterday’s game against Mt. Pleasant, the senior guard was second in the state with 104 steals this season.
“We knew she was fast and would capitalize (on her steals),” Coach Joanna Settles said after the game. “Too many turnovers gave her her points tonight.”
Alexander scored a game-high 25 points against the Panthers.
The Rockets are quick as a team, too, and the Panthers found themselves speeding up their game in the first half to keep up.
“They came in here to win, and we had to pick up the pace to match their intensity,” Settles said.
But the Panthers got a little out of control, leading to 15 turnovers before halftime.
The Rockets took advantage of the Panthers’ struggles, taking a 18-13 lead into the second quarter.
Hannah Becker sank all six of her free throws and Kelsi Phipps made a couple baskets inside to help the Panthers tie the score before the break, 30-30.
“We settled down in the second half,” Settles said.
Mt. Pleasant finished the game with 12 steals of its own, led by Natalie Ita with five.
“They came out really hard; we came out harder in the second half — and we started playing smarter,” Natalie Myers said. “We had too many passes that were turnovers (in the first half). But we changed that, and that was key.”
The teams were still tied at the end of the third quarter, 39-39, but Mt. Pleasant built a lead in the final eight minutes — Phipps, who led the Panthers with 17 points on the night, scored in the paint on an assist from Myers and then had a putback to put the Panthers up, 45-41.
Becker hit a shot from deep and then scored again just 30 seconds later to give Mt. Pleasant a 51-43 edge, but the Rockets weren’t finished yet.
They added four points to come within three, 51-48, with 44 seconds left to play.
Mary Wester scored to stretch the lead back to five, but Alexander got her last basket in just 10 seconds later to cut the Panther lead down to three again.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, the Rockets were forced to foul — but it didn’t do them much good.
At that point, the team only had two fouls in the second half and couldn’t get Mt. Pleasant on the line.
Without Mt. Pleasant shooting any free throws, the Rockets’ only chance to get the ball back was on a steal — and they tried, five times on five fouls in the last 13.5 seconds. But Mt. Pleasant held on to the ball and the win.
On the night, Phipps was 7-for-9 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free throw line.
Becker added 11 points; Myers scored seven. Shelby Allender, Taryne Shull and Wester had six points each.
Phipps had a team-high nine rebounds; Shull added five.
As a team, the Panthers have been working on their 2-3 zone, and that’s what they used against the Rockets, trying to prevent 3-pointers. But the defense was also leading to a few too many offensive rebounds for the visitors, something that Settles says the Panthers will need to keep working on.
“When you’re playing man-to-man, its easy to find someone to box out,” Settles said. “In a zone, you have to make sure you find a body to get in front of.”
On the other end of the court, Becker and Phipps led the Panthers on the offensive boards, and Phipps ended up with eight second-chance points in the game.
Becker dished out four assists, while Phipps, Myers and Ita had two each.
The Panthers are now 9-5 overall this season and remain 4-2 in the Southeast Conference.
They will look to improve their conference record Friday when they travel to Ft. Madison for a freshman/JV/varsity tripleheader against the Bloodhounds.
The freshman game is set for 4:45 p.m., with JV and varsity to follow.
The Panthers return home Saturday to take on Burlington, starting at 3 p.m.
MT. PLEASANT (53)
Shelby Allender 2 1-2 6, Taryne Shull 2 0-0 6, Kelsi Phipps 7 3-4 17, Natalie Myers 3 1-2 7, Mary Wester 3 0-0 6, Hannah Becker 2 6-6 11.
3-point goals: Shull (2), Allender, Becker.