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Trojans fall to Pioneers on Senior Night

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

The intention of the New Castle High School girls basketball team was to win its final home game of the season Tuesday night so that its three seniors could savor a victory in their last game on the Fieldhouse floor.

However, visiting Mooresville spoiled the party by grabbing an early lead and never letting go of it the remainder of the contest to post a 55-45 win over the Trojans.

The Pioneers improved to 11-7 on the season while New Castle dropped to 8-11. The Trojans finished the home portion of their schedule with a 3-9 ledger.

New Castle seniors Haylie Graham, Gabby Williams, and Mackayla Huckeby were honored with gifts and recognition before the game.

Arguably, Class 4A Mooresville has played one of the state’s toughest schedules this season, including a murderers row slate of games early in the season against Bedford-North Lawrence, Ben Davis, Indianapolis North Central, Brownsburg, and Martinsville (all losses, but not bad ones) to put its record at 1-5 after its first six games.

Since then, the Pioneers had reeled off nine wins in 11 games, including impressive victories at Fishers and Columbus North. So New Castle wasn’t exactly playing the Little Sisters of the Poor Tuesday night.

“Mooresville beat us last year by 21 points,” New Castle Coach Brandon Bradley said afterward, “and our girls knew that. They’ve played teams tough and have some really nice wins against good teams. Playing them and teams like Warren Central, Hamilton Southeastern, Fishers, and Westfield can only help us as we prepare for the sectional.”

Obviously, the Trojans played hard in their final home game as evidenced by their 41-22 domination on the boards. But three other parameters stand out about this game which led to the home team’s defeat.

First, New Castle did not shoot particularly well, as it ended the contest with 14-of-45 (31.1 percent) marksmanship from the floor, including a chilly 4-of-20 (20 percent) in the first half.

Secondly, the Trojans committed 17 turnovers. That’s not a particularly large number, but it stands out in comparison to only nine miscues for Mooresville. Fifteen of those turnovers occurred in the first three quarters when the Pioneers built an 18-point lead.

Third, Mooresville had 5-10 junior Elise Scaggs on its team. Scaggs was a one-girl wrecking ball, as she accounted for almost one-half of the Pioneer points (27) and grabbed seven rebounds, several of which were of the offensive variety.

“A couple of years ago, she (Scaggs) was more of a true wing player or guard,” Bradley stated, “but since then she’s gotten bigger and added a ton of strength. She was a tough match-up for us. If we tried putting a smaller player against her, she would overpower that player on drives, and if we put a taller player on her, she has a nice jumper that she uses. She’s a nice player.”

Mooresville never trailed, zooming out to a 7-0 lead at the 6:45 mark of the first quarter on a Natalie Kassen three-pointer, a free throw from Paige Gregory, and a traditional three-point play from Scaggs.

New Castle’s first score came 16 seconds later on a Haylie Graham field goal, but the Trojans got only a two-pointer from Mackayla Huckeby the rest of the period as the visitors grabbed a 12-4 advantage after one.

Scaggs scored eight points for the Pioneers in the frame and the hosts were just 2-for-9 from the field in the opening stanza.

“We started a different lineup because of Senior Night and were out of rhythm a bit early,” Bradley said. “We adjusted and got better as the game progressed.”

Two successful charity tosses from New Castle’s Alyssa “Peanut” Semler 14 seconds into the second quarter trimmed the Mooresville lead to 12-6, and Cameron Tabor’s first bucket of the game with 4:01 left in the period cut the Pioneer advantage by another point to 16-11.

But the Trojans got only a single Tabor free throw the rest of the first half as Mooresville closed with a 9-1 run to take a 25-12 lead at intermission.

Lauren Farb scored five points and Gregory four for the Pioneers in the second quarter while Tabor and Graham led the hosts with three points apiece.

New Castle shot just 2-for-11 from the floor in the second period, but stayed within shouting distance by draining 4-of-6 free throws. In the first half, Mooresville shot 9-of-21 from the floor (42.9 percent) and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.

“At halftime, we talked about coming out with fight the second half,” Bradley said. “We needed to get a little mean and a little nasty, and I think we did that the last 16 minutes. More than any other game this season, I think we responded really well with adjustments we had to make to get back in the game.”

Early in the third quarter, the hosts made an effort to get back into the game as Tabor hit two buckets and Graham another that were countered by only a pair of Scaggs free throws, and the Trojans pulled back to within single digits at 27-18 with 6:17 remaining in the period.

But Scaggs nailed a basket and a traditional three-point play, sandwiched around buckets from Gregory and Ava Mayer, for a 9-0 run that doubled Mooresville’s advantage to 18 points at 36-18 with 3:30 left in the quarter.

Both teams scored six points the rest of the period, so the Pioneers still had an 18-point lead, 42-24, after three.

Scaggs tallied 11 points for Mooresville in the frame, while Tabor scored seven points and Huckeby three for New Castle.

To their credit, the Trojans didn’t throw in the towel and aggressively began hacking away at the deficit in the final quarter. A whopping 15-3 advantage in rebounding allowed the hosts to get second-chance points or get to the charity stripe for some attempts for points.

Playing one of its best periods against a good team all season, New Castle outscored the Pioneers 21-12, whittling the visitors’ lead down to 54-45.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, there were only 36 seconds left in the game by that time, and a free throw by Mooresville’s Alex Sanders closed out the night’s scoring.

Six players scored for the hosts in the fourth quarter, led by eight points from Tabor and five by Huckeby. Scaggs tallied eight more points for the Pioneers.

New Castle improved its shooting in the second half, as it went 10-of-25 from the field (40 percent), but so did Mooresville, as it drained 11-of-23 shots from the floor (47.8 percent).

For the game, the Trojans made 13-of-21 free throws (61.9 percent). The Pioneers’ shooting totals for the contest were 20-of-44 (45.5 percent) marksmanship from the field and 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) from the charity stripe.

In addition to the contributions from Scaggs, Mooresville got nine points from Farb and seven points and six rebounds by Gregory before she fouled out in the final period.

Two players had double-doubles for New Castle. Tabor had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Huckeby contributed 10 points and 14 boards. Semler had five points and four rebounds before exiting with fouls in the fourth quarter, and Megan Mills corralled five caroms.

The Pioneers also won the junior varsity game 47-25. Kirsten Dove scored 11 points and Lauren Gott and Addison Shaffer added nine apiece for Mooresville, while Mackenzie Bridgeman scored eight points, Laila Smith seven, and Macayla McGowan five for the Trojans.

New Castle travels to Greenfield-Central Friday night to play in the first game of a varsity-only girl/boy doubleheader. The Trojan junior varsity teams play the Cougars in a girl/boy doubleheader tonight in the Fieldhouse.

“We still have things to play for,” Bradley added. “If we play like we did in the second half and can sustain it over a full 32 minutes, we’ll be in good shape.”

Mooresville 55, New Castle 45


Farb 3-9 2-3 9, Gregory 2-5 3-4 7, Scaggs 11-16 4-4 27, Kassen 1-4 1-4 4, Mayer 2-3 0-0 4, Karr 1-4 0-0 2, Dinwiddie 0-3 1-2 1, Gott 0-0 0-0 0, Sanders 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 20-44 12-19 55.


York 0-2 0-0 0, Graham 3-6 2-4 8, Tabor 6-15 3-4 18, Williams 1-3 0-0 2, Huckeby 2-7 6-8 10, Mills 1-8 0-3 2, Semler 1-4 2-2 5, McGowan 0-0 0-0 0, Bridgeman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-45 13-21 45.

Mooresville 12 13 17 13 —55

New Castle 4 8 12 21 —45

3-point goals – Mooresville 3 (Farb, Scaggs, Kassen), New Castle 4 (Tabor 3, Semler). Rebounds – Mooresville 22 (Scaggs 7, Gregory 6), New Castle 41 (Huckeby 14, Tabor 10, Mills 5, Semler 4). Total fouls – Mooresville 19, New Castle 17. Turnovers – Mooresville 9, New Castle 17. Fouled out – Gregory, Semler. JV score – Mooresville 47, New Castle 25. Records – Mooresville 11-7, New Castle 8-11.