SPARTA — In a backyard battle of wills between a pair of rivals, the name of the game was defense.
When the Highland Scots (1-0) took on the visiting Centerburg Trojans (0-3), the difference was the Scots defense, led by Raven Tilford (six points, six rebounds, one steal) and Gena West (four points, four rebounds, one steal), a pair of forwards who share the post. Add teammate Madison Cecil’s 15 points to the mix and it was enough to carry the Scots to a 32-18 Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference victory over the Trojans Saturday afternoon.
“I think we worked really well together on defense,” Tilford said. “We started out a little iffy, but we kept it together.”
Tilford and West seem to share the post extremely well between them.
“We just have a connection,” Tilford said. “We just know when one is going up and the other is going down or who is going to what side. (Gena) likes to stick to the right and I like the left, so we just connect pretty well and we’re good together.”
After that, there was very little offense from the Trojans, who only managed one field goal in each of the final three quarters.
Aside from Cecil, who knocked down a trio of 3-pointers in the game, the Scots’ biggest advantage was capitalizing on six steals and taking advantage of the fact that they outrebounded the Trojans in the second half, 9-7.
“I think it’s great that we kept Centerburg to 18 points,” said Highland coach Whitney Levering-Smith. “Keeping an opponent below 20 points is good on any day, but we struggled with finishing our baskets at the other end. We were definitely getting the shots that we wanted. Now, we just have to learn to capitalize and finish.”
Shooting continues to plague the Trojans through the first three games of the season.
“Our shooting has just absolutely killed us,” said Centerburg coach Bo Glenn. “We are working every single day at practice. We spend 45 or 50 minutes everyday working on shooting. Some of these girls just need to learn and refine their skills. We’re young and a lot of our kids don’t have any experience at this speed.”
Highland will travel to Mount Gilead Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. game, and Centerburg will host East Knox.