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Trojan girls fall to Red Devils in season opener

Macayla McGowan, a junior on the New Castle High School girls varsity basketball team, scored 13 points (one-half of her team’s total) Tuesday night as the Trojans lost their regular season opener at Richmond 53-26.

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

RICHMOND — It was a huge difference from one year ago.

A season ago, New Castle scored 66 points in beating Richmond in the New Castle Fieldhouse to start the varsity girls basketball season.

This 2019-20 season for the Lady Trojans tipped off on a Tuesday Election Night in Tiernan Center at Richmond High School, and the host Lady Red Devils turned the tables on NC.

Taking the lead late in the first quarter, Richmond went on to pull away later and posted a decisive 53-26 win.

Playing their first varsity game since the graduation of the school’s girls basketball career-leading scorer, Cameron Tabor, the Trojans never could get their offensive game going this time around, as the athletic and physical Richmond team effectively defended New Castle, dominated the glass, and played a pretty efficient game on offense.

“It is obvious that this was not the start we wanted, or expected,” said second-year Lady Trojan varsity Head Coach Molly Swift. “Sometimes, a game is not win or lose, but win or learn. I think we learned what we have to do better, what we have to improve on.”

Very early, the Trojans stayed close, primarily on their defense, plus some hot shooting early from junior Macayla McGowan.

RHS led 4-1 early before McGowan hit a pair of treys to give the Trojans the team’s only lead of the night, 7-6, late in a low-scoring first quarter.

But the host Devils scored the last four points of the first eight minutes to lead 10-7 at the first break, and never trailed the rest of the night. McGowan would finish the game with a team-high 13 points, half of New Castle’s 26-point total.

Richmond sophomore post Jakaia Lotz was dominant.

Lotz recorded a game-high 21 points, recording five inside two-point field goals, but draining 11-of-13 free throws. RHS was 14-of-21 as a team from the charity stripe. Lotz hit eight of nine in the first half, along helping the Red Devils to pull away to a 26-10 advantage at intermission.

Richmond had four other players score in the first half, and eight Red Devil players scored points in the game.

Conversely, only five Trojans reached the scoring column, and only McGowan and senior Cloie York (nine points) scored more than two points.

Amazingly, NC hit six treys, but could connect on just one two-point field goal in the entire game, as a combination of sticky RHS zone defenses limited good shot opportunities.

But what open looks the Trojans could manage, almost none seemed to go through the basket, as NC had just three points (the final McGowan trey) in the second quarter, and only five more in the third quarter, on the first trey of the game from York, and the team’s lone deuce from McGowan in the third quarter.

Both Mackenzie Bridgeman and Maddy Meek had a single point on a free throw, and senior Chloe Ayers hit both ends of a one-and-one in the game’s final seconds. Bridgeman hit her charity toss in the fourth quarter, and McGowan hit a pair.

York hit the final two of her three treys in the late going, as the Trojans did manage 15 points in the fourth quarter of the team’s first regular season game.

Playing, but not scoring, in the game for NC were Ashlynn Clouse, Karsen Morgan, Anyssa Hall, Ava Stearns, Chloe Vaughn and Alyssa Stewart. Freshman post player Sakagawea Watson was not in uniform for NC in the game, but is expected back Friday.

The Trojans play at long-time rival Rushville on Friday.

“We haven’t worked a lot on our offense in preparation for the opening game, focusing on defense instead,” Swift said after a long post-game talk to her charges. “But there are no excuses for this outcome. We don’t have the quickness to match up with Richmond, and I thought we got a little tired in the late going, so we will need to improve our conditioning.”

Neither team scored well in the third quarter, as RHS scored only nine points while New Castle had five. It was 35-15, Devils, after three.

With the score at 36-16 early in the fourth quarter, the hosts scored nine points in a row to make it 45-16, but the Trojans did outscore the Devils 10-8 the rest of the way to finish the season-opening game.

“We didn’t get a lot of good looks, but even when we did, we just did not hit shots, shots we are capable of hitting, but just didn’t in this game,” Swift said. “We will need to get in the gym, put up a lot of shots each day, and become better shooters.”

For RHS, Ajah Orr, Alayha Allen and Jayci Allen each contributed seven points, while Kenzie Wert added five and Molly Morken three. Unofficially, the Red Devils outrebounded the Trojans 42-23, and committed just seven turnovers.

Richmond also pulled away to win the junior varsity game Tuesday 29-13. Vaughn had five points for the NC junior varsity team, while Presley Gibson and Ava Stearns added three, and Anyssa Hall had one field goal for two.

Other Lady Trojan players in the junior varsity game were Clouse, Stewart, Areyanna McTier, Katie Cooper, Lilly Raines, Ali Reno and Paula Carnero.

Richmond played at Union City Wednesday night.

Richmond 53, New Castle 26

NEW CASTLE (26)

McGowan 4-13 2-2 13, York 3-9 0-0 9, Clouse 0-0 0-0 0, Morgan 0-8 0-0 0, Bridgeman 0-8 1-2 1, Meek 0-5 1-2 1, Hall 0-1 0-0 0, Ayers 0-0 2-2 2, Stearns 0-0 0-0 0, Vaughn 0-1 0-0 0, Stewart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 7-45 6-8 26.

RICHMOND (53)

J. Allen 3-7 1-2 7, Orr 3-7 0-0 7, Bennett 1-1 0-0 2, Morken 1-4 0-0 3, Lotz 5-16 11-13 21, Wert 2-6 0-0 5, A. Allen 3-11 1-4 7, Brewer 0-1 1-2 1, O’Brien 0-0 0-0 0, Neeley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 14-21 53.

New Castle 7 3 5 11 – 26

Richmond 10 16 9 18 – 53

3-point goals – New Castle 6 (McGowan 3, York 3), Richmond 3 (Orr, Morken, Wert). Rebounds – New Castle 23 (McGowan 8), Richmond 42 (Lotz 9, A. Allen 8, J. Allen 8). Total fouls – New Castle 17, Richmond 11. Turnovers – New Castle 12, Richmond 7. JV score – Richmond 29, New Castle 13. Records – New Castle 0-1, Richmond 1-0.