BLANCHESTER — Coming off of two tough home losses and facing a winless Felicity team, Blanchester girls basketball coach Bennie Carroll knew his team needed a quick start Thursday night.
His Lady Wildcats delivered, opening the game on an 18-2 run on the way to a 51-35 victory.
“It was important for a couple of reasons,” Carroll said. “It was important for taking away their confidence, and we’ve had a couple bad ones in a row and we needed a little confidence.
“More often than not, we’ve come out slow. So it’s nice to come out and get the jump on somebody.”
Blanchester (9-5, 3-3 in SBC) didn’t allow Felicity (0-13, 0-5) to hang around.
A swarming Lady Wildcat defense held the Lady Cardinals to just two field goals over the first 12 minutes of the game. That defense forced 13 Felicity turnovers in in the first half.
“We were able to force a few turnovers and get a few easy baskets,” Carroll said. “For us, that’s vital.”
Meanwhile, Blanchester turned the ball over just three times in the first 16 minutes of play. The turnover differential, combined with offensive rebounds, allowed Blanchester to attempt twice as many shots in the first half as Felicity.
In the first half, Blanchester made 12 of 36 (33.3 percent) while holding Felicity to just 5 of 18 (27.8 percent). The Lady Wildcats led 31-12 at halftime.
Blanchester led by as many as 24 in the second half before Felicity chipped away at the final margin over the final three minutes.
“I think we got it up the floor well and created some of those easy baskets,” Carroll said. “I thought we moved the ball well offensively — better than we have been. That created a little bit more confidence.”
Carroll used his trademark five-for-five substitution pattern to good success. Nine Lady Wildcats scored at least two points, led by Elicia Patton who had 13.
“We had some favorable matchups with our inside people,” Carroll said. “We were able to play all 10 of our girls a little bit more. Everybody had some good moments and did some good things. I don’t want to single any of them out because I thought several of them did well.”
Kylie Sponcil led Felicity and all scorers with 20 points, including the game’s final eight points with the outcome long since decided.
After tough losses to Georgetown and Bethel-Tate, Carroll was glad to see his team recapture a bit of its early-season momentum.
“Bethel-Tate, they’re just good,” Carroll said. “They beat us. The Georgetown game, we lost our mojo a little bit. There is something to the momentum, so coming out, playing hard and getting some points on the board, hopefully, that will carry over.”
January 19, 2017
@Blanchester High School
Blanchester 51, Felicity 35
(35) FELICITY (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Morgan Horn 0-0-2-2, Lauren Mitchell 2-2-0-6, Madison Baird 2-0-1-5, Kylie Sponcil 9-0-2-20, Sydney Stamper 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 14-2-5-35.
(51) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Asia Baldwin 1-0-2-4, Elicia Patton 5-1-2-13, Olivia Gundler 4-0-0-8, Merri Lindsey 2-1-0-5, Emma Gundler 2-0-1-5, McKenzie Miller 1-0-2-4, Regan Ostermeier 1-0-0-2, Savana Greene 0-0-2-2, Dakota Watters 4-0-0-8. TOTALS 20-2-9-51.
FIELD GOALS: F 14/40 (Sponcil 9/15); B 20/58 (Patton 5/8, O. Gundler 4/6, Watters 4/7)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: F 2/13 (Mitchell 2/7); B 2/7
FREE THROWS: F 5/9; B 9/21
TURNOVERS: F 20; B 13
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton