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Great start propels Raider girls past Tigers

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Shenandoah's Erikka Hill (44) puts in two more points against the defense of Alexandria's Maddy Schuyler (12) as the Tigers' Ally Honeycutt (22) and Gracyn Hosier (30) watch during Thursday night's girls basketball game in Von Jameson Gymnasium. Hill posted game highs of 17 points and eight rebounds in the host Raiders' 65-36 victory.
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Shenandoah's Jenna Stewart (20-white) sets a pick against Alexandria's Reiley Hiser (20-maroon) as the Raiders' Stormie Fitch (12) moves toward the ball and Rachel Soden (4) and other players watch during Thursday night's girls basketball game in Von Jameson Gymnasium. Stewart had a career-high 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and some assists and blocks in host Shenandoah's 65-36 win over the Tigers.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

MIDDLETOWN - The Shenandoah High School girls basketball team certainly had no letdown after its big overtime win over New Castle last Saturday night in the Fieldhouse.

Playing arguably their best eight minutes of basketball this season, the Raider girls jumped on visiting Alexandria in the first quarter Thursday night in Von Jameson Gymnasium and dominated all facets of the game in the period in zooming out to a 23-2 lead by the end of it to propel them to a 65-36 victory.

Shenandoah won its sixth straight game and improved to 11-4 for the season, while the Tigers went back to Madison County with a 7-8 record.

"We focused on having no letdown after our big win against New Castle last Saturday," Shenandoah Coach Dameon Wyatt said afterward. "You never know what you're going to get the first game after Christmas, but the girls came out and played the best they have all year that first quarter. We focus on defense to kick-start our offense, and when we play good defense, we're pretty tough to beat."

How dominant were the Raiders in the first quarter? How about the following parameters? Shenandoah shot 10-of-17 from the field (58.8 percent) compared to 1-for-9 (11.1 percent) for Alexandria, outrebounded the visitors 10-4, and forced 10 Tiger turnovers before committing its first miscue with the ball at the 6.3 second mark of the period.

The Raiders rolled out to an 8-0 advantage at the 5:46 mark of the quarter before Jenna Reece VanBlair got the first points for Alexandria on a basket with 5:29 remaining in the period.

Shenandoah then went on a 15-0 run to close out the opening quarter for that 23-2 lead after one, and seven different Raiders scored during the initial stanza.

Erikka Hill tallied four buckets for eight points, Kathryn Perry had five points, Rachel Soden the lone three-pointer for the hosts in the contest, Stormie Fitch, Jenna Stewart, and Sydney Campbell scored a basket apiece, and Faith Muterspaugh added a charity toss.

"This team is so unselfish with the ball," Wyatt remarked. "On offense, we move the ball around looking for the best shot, and our girls don't mind giving up a good shot to a teammate who has a better one."

Soden extended the run to 17-0 and the host's lead to 25-2 with a bucket 34 seconds into the second quarter. After the Tigers' Allie Gast nailed a trey at the 5:45 mark, Hannah Cole, Perry, and Hill scored buckets to boost the Shenandoah advantage to 31-5 with three minutes remaining in the first half.

Alexandria's Maddy Schuyler made a basket and Kenzie Andrew sank a free throw, sandwiched around another Perry bucket, and the Raiders took a 33-8 lead into the locker room at intermission.

Shooting improved only marginally for the Tigers in the second period as they were just 2-for-15 from the floor in the quarter and finished the first half at a woeful 3-for-24 from the floor for 12.5 percent accuracy. They did cut their turnovers down to three in the second eight minutes.

Shenandoah was 5-for-10 from the field in the second period and ended the opening half at 15-for-27 for 55.6 percent marksmanship.

To Alexandria's credit, it didn't throw in the towel, get on the bus, and head home. The Tigers continued to battle the hosts, but things got a little worse before they improved some for them.

Hill hit consecutive baskets and Stewart and Muterspaugh added one apiece for an 8-0 Raider run to start the second half, which ballooned the Shenandoah lead to 33 points at 41-8 at the 5:23 mark of the third quarter.

Alexandria's Reiley Hiser finally scored for the visitors at the 5:12 mark of the period, but Stewart tallied another basket a minute later to restore the 33-point advantage at 43-10.

Andrew hit the second of a pair of charity tosses 11 seconds later, but Stewart came back down and scored her third bucket of the quarter to give the Raiders a 45-11 lead, the largest of the night for the hosts.

The Tigers then outscored the hosts 11-6 the rest of the period to pull to within 51-22 after three. Stewart scored eight points in the third quarter for Shenandoah while Hiser had five points and Gast four for Alexandria.

"Jenna had her best scoring night ever on the varsity," Wyatt stated. "She works really hard and always has been a good rebounder, defender, and gets assists. If we can get her scoring like she did tonight, it's going to make us that much better as a team. The sky's the limit for her."

The Tigers' Kirsten VanHorn, who ended the third period with a three-pointer, started the fourth quarter with another one, pulling the visitors to within 51-25 with just 17 seconds elapsed in the period.

Alexandria still was within 26 points at 54-28 after another VanHorn trey with 6:44 remaining in the contest, but that was as close as it would get. The hosts went on a 7-2 run to grab a 61-30 advantage with 4:34 left, and Alexandria outscored Shenandoah just 6-4 after that to account for the final score.

The Raiders won the battle of the boards 35-30 and committed a total of 12 turnovers in the game compared to 24 for the Tigers.

Shenandoah ended up shooting 27-for-55 (49.1 percent) from the field and 10-of-14 (71.4 percent) from the free throw line. Alexandria warmed up a little bit after intermission and finished 10-of-46 (21.7 percent) from the floor and 12-of-19 (61.6 percent) from the charity stripe.

Hill led the way for the Raiders with game highs of 17 points and eight rebounds, Perry had 16 points and three boards, and Stewart 12 points and seven rebounds. Campbell corralled six caroms for the hosts.

"I don't think I've ever scored 12 points in a game before," Stewart said afterward. "But our defense is the key to our success. We try to get steals, and when we are on offense we move the ball around and get it to the player who has the best shot. We want to continue the roll we're on and win the county tourney because we didn't win it last season."

Gast led the Tigers with 10 points and four rebounds, VanHorn had nine points, and Hiser seven points and four boards.

Shenandoah won the junior varsity contest 44-31. Katie Craig scored 19 points and Hannah Zody 13 for the Raiders, while Alexandria had a balanced attack and was led by Allie Gast and Morgan Gillispie with seven and six points, respectively.

Shenandoah plays Knightstown in the Henry County Tournament, hosted by Blue River Valley, at 6 p.m. Jan. 4. The Raiders defeated the Panthers by 40 points when the two teams met earlier this season.

"Our sole focus is on Knightstown right now," Wyatt added. "If we get past them, we'll play another team hungry for a county championship. We need to be ready to play every game from the start."

Shenandoah 65, Alexandria 36


Stansberry 0-2 0-0 0, VanHorn 3-6 0-0 9, Schuyler 1-7 1-2 3, Hiser 1-8 5-6 7, VanBlair 1-8 0-0 2, Honeycutt 0-2 0-0 2, Andrew 0-1 3-6 3, Gast 4-10 1-3 10, Hosier 0-0 0-0 0, Ancil 0-0 0-0 0, Bivens 0-2 0-0 0, Gillispie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-46 12-19 36.


Perry 5-11 6-8 16, Soden 2-6 0-0 5, Stewart 6-8 0-0 12, Muterspaugh 2-5 1-2 5, Hill 8-12 1-2 17, Fitch 2-5 0-0 4, Cole 1-2 2-2 4, Campbell 1-4 0-0 2, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Zody 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-55 10-14 65.



3-point goals - Alexandria 4 (Van Horn 3, Gast), Shenandoah 1 (Soden). Rebounds - Alexandria 30 (Hiser 4, Gast 4), Shenandoah 35 (Hill 8, Stewart 7, Campbell 6). Total fouls - Alexandria 11, Shenandoah 16. Turnovers - Alexandria 24, Shenandoah 12. JV score - Shenandoah 44, Alexandria 31. Records - Alexandria 7-8, Shenandoah 11-4.