Jills fall to aggressive Elks despite Hayley’s 26-point effort

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The Centerville Lady Elkstook their first ever trip to The Pit on Wednesday, December 28th. Least to say, they looked comfortable.After a close first quarter, the Elks’ aggressive, up-tempo style caught up to the undermanned Jills, and Centerville would go on to win 72-39.

Coming into their game with the Jills, Centerville was 6-1, with their only loss coming to Chaminade Julienne. The Elks were 3-0 in GWOC play, including a 48-point win over Lebanon, a 36-point win over Vandalia-Butler, and a 44-point win over Springfield.

“[We are] hoping to give Fairmont a run for their money in the GWOC this year,” Centerville head coach Adam Priefer said.

The Elks win by an average of 33.5 points per victory. They average nearly seventeen free-throw attempts per game, making nearly eleven. Centerville scores an average of 59 points per game, while giving up just 31.7.

The Jills, meanwhile, are a different story.

Coming into the game with a 4-4 record (2-2 in SWBL), the Jills average just over 39 points per game, while giving up an average of 42 points per game. The Jills attempt nearly eight free throws per game, making six.

The Jills came into the game having won their last two games, close contests versus Brookville and Greenville. In the game at Greenville, senior guard Claire Davis scored a season-high 24 points, and junior forward Elizabeth Haley added 18.

In the first quarter of Wednesday night’s contest, the Jills kept it close. Davis started the Jills off with a lefty-runner in the paint, putting the home squad up 2-0.

However, the Lady Elks would start off aggressive as well, getting to the free throw line in their first two offensive possessions.

The Jills then turned the ball over on three straight possessions, and gave up six straight points to Centerville sophomore guard Naddiyah Cross. Cross hit two jump-shots and a layup to put the Elks up 8-2.

Leading the attack for Centerville was junior phenom Alex Henning, who poured in 18 points for the victorious Elks.

Henning averaged 15 points per game heading into Wednesday night’s contest, and was coming off an 18-point effort in a win over Northmont, which followed a 17-point effort in a blowout win over Vandalia-Butler.

Henning was 22 for 25 from the free throw line coming into the game against Oakwood, and she would continue her hot charity-stripe shooting, going six-for-six on Wednesday night.

The Elks ran a quick motion offense, spreading out the floor and leaving room for their speedy guards to attack the paint and draw fouls. However, the Jacks kept things close in the first eight minutes, and would end the quarter down by just six points.

Because the Elks attacked the paint for interior scoring in the first quarter, the Jills tightened down their interior defense in the second quarter. This, however, left the skilled Centerville shooters open on the outside, and they would capitalize.

Henning started to convert from three-point range, and the Jills struggled with turnovers.

“We turned the ball over too much,” Jills head coach Aaron Oakes said after the game.

Even with these turnovers, Haley kept the Jills within striking distance in the first half, contributing 15 of the Jills’ 21 first half points. The Elks would take a 36-21 lead at the end of the first half.

Even though the Elks had built a firm lead, the Centerville attack never ceased. Cross lead the Elks’ fast break in the second half, and she would finish with nine points on the night.

After taking a 24-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Elks focused on getting the whole team involved.

The Jills’ had to pressure the Elks’ scoring guards, leaving Centerville post players like junior Madison Rittinger and freshman Shannon Coffee open to score through their motion offense.

“We set up a lot of screens to try to open up our shooters and our screeners,” Priefer said.

The Lady Elks’ defensive pressure never stopped as well, as the Elks were always communicating on defense. Both coaches agreed that, while fresh legs were not entirely to blame, the Jills were at a disadvantage by having a short bench.

While all eleven Elks scored on Wednesday night, only three Jills got on the scoreboard; Hayley, Davis, and sophomore guard Anne Whalen.

“They always had talented girls on the floor,” Oakes said.

When asked what gave his team the biggest advantage in the Elks’ victory, Priefer mentioned his team’s “ability to pressure the ball,” and his team’s “ability to sub.”

Although the Jills lost, Hayley recorded a season-high 26 points on the night, and Davis contributed with ten points.

While the Jills may have been outmatched on Wednesday night, Oakes scheduled the game with Centerville for the team’s own good.

“These kinds of games will make us better in the long run,” Oakes said.

The Jills fell to 4-5 overall with the 33-point defeat, while the Lady Elks rose to 7-1 with the win. The Elks’ next game is on December 30th at Alter, while the Jills’ next game is on January 5th at home versus Monroe.

-Grant Pepper

pepper.grant@oakwoodschools.org

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