By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
It seemed at times like the Alexandria girls basketball team refused to do the little things it was going to take to keep itself in the game Monday against Pendleton Heights. So Kiawna Cottrell took advantage by scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Arabians’ 80-35 win.
Cottrell used her quickness and athletic ability to lead her team to a 21-12 first-quarter advantage.
Pendleton Heights coach Holly Hollinger-Gutierrez said there is no reason Cottrell couldn’t average double figures for the season, but her star forward had to be convinced she can be a scorer as well as a defensive force.
“I’ve worked on her enough I think after tonight she sees what she can do,” said the Arabians coach. “I mean, if she can do that, man, we have another weapon to our team, and she just makes us that much better. She was fabulous tonight. So I hope that grows from here, and she continues to do that.”
Kenzie Gustin didn’t start due to missing three days of practice with the flu, but she came off the bench to spark her team with nine points in the first quarter. Cottrell was perfect in the quarter, hitting both of her field-goal and free-throw attempts for six points to go along with three boards.
Alexandria’s Courtney Skinner opened the game by hitting a 3-pointer, but an Arabians’ 21-9 run to finish out the first quarter halted any momentum for the home team.
Gustin’s big opening quarter led to her 22-point, nine-rebound night for Pendleton Heights (7-3).
Despite Cottrell and Gustin combining for 45 points and 21 rebounds, the Arabians used a great team effort for the blowout win.
They had four other players score at least six points, with Kelsee Wendling getting six, Taylor Siefken and Meghan Dawson going for eight apiece and Tiffany Wertz finishing with nine.
“It was a great team effort,” said Hollinger-Gutierrez. “They were seeing each other, nobody was selfish, they did a better job not jacking up a bunch of 3s and missing those way off target. So it was a great team effort. We got a lot of great passes inside for layups. I was very proud of them.”
Alexandria coach Tina Bolte said her team won’t win many games if it doesn’t show it is willing to hustle and do the little things that win ballgames.
“What I told them after the game was, ‘It doesn’t matter if we play a nice team like Pendleton or a team with much less talent, if you don’t do the little things then you’re not going to win any type of game,’” said a frustrated Bolte. “The results are going to be the same. We’ve been getting the same results because we refuse to rebound. We refuse to play good defense. It doesn’t really matter who’s on the other side.”
The Tigers (1-7) were outrebounded 47-16.
Bolte said they stress doing all the little things throughout the course of practice and games that will help lead to more wins, but she said her team has failed to execute those on the court. She cited the fact the Tigers have not outrebounded a team this season.
“I said, ‘Until we make the little things a priority, we’re going to get the same result no matter who we’re playing,’” Bolte said. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘When I begin to think about the little things, I realize there are no little things.’ There are very basic things in basketball that you must execute, and nothing else really matters. Until you start doing those things well, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
Peyton Quinn led Alexandria with 11 points, while Skinner and Shanna Kelly had seven and six points, respectively. Desirae Litchfield led the team with three rebounds.