By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
More than halfway through the third quarter Tuesday, Alexandria still was clinging to a four-point lead in its girls basketball season opener.
But a technical foul against sophomore Paxton Quinn following a turnover helped spark an 11-0 Yorktown run, and the hosts’ offense disappeared for long stretches of the second half in a 64-51 loss.
“I’m not upset about the effort I saw,” Alexandria coach Tina Bolte said. “In those three quarters, before we let momentum get away from us, I thought we were playing a good game.”
Indeed, Alex led 29-25 with about three-and-a-half minutes to play in the third quarter after seniors Shanna Kelly and Peyton Quinn combined to sink three 3-pointers.
Yorktown sliced the deficit in half with a jumper on offense, and then stopped Paxton Quinn’s drive to the basket by wrapping the 5-foot-9 forward up and tearing away the ball.
Paxton Quinn fell to the court out-of-bounds along the baseline, believing she’d soon hear a whistle. When none came, she briefly vocalized her astonishment and drew a technical foul.
Junior Kendra Saunders made both free throws to tie the game, and senior Mikaela Whitinger sank a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to put Yorktown ahead for good.
Alexandria cut its deficit to 40-38 on another 3-pointer from Kelly to start the fourth quarter, but Yorktown responded with a 12-0 run to push the game out of reach.
When the home team wasn’t scoring on 3-point jumpers, it often wasn’t scoring at all.
Kelsey Crisp’s free throw with 3:03 remaining in the game broke a streak of 18 consecutive points off 3-pointers to start the second half for Alexandria.
“You can live and die by the 3,” Bolte said. “We know that there’s gotta be other options. There’s gotta be other weapons. We need to establish an inside presence, but it isn’t easy.”
Peyton Quinn and Kelly combined for all but nine of Alexandria’s points. Quinn had a game-high 22 on 8-of-17 shooting, including a 3-for-9 effort from 3-point range. Kelly added 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 6-of-11 from behind the arc.
“They have a determined spirit this year because they know this is it,” Bolte said of her senior leaders. “They understand what it takes. The rest of them will come along and follow their leadership.”
Yorktown countered with an exceptionally balanced attack.
Whitinger led four players in double figures with 16 points. Katy Johnson added 13, Katie Miller had 11 and Saunders finished with 10.
The visitors also won the battle on the boards by a 33-22 margin.
Despite the loss, it was a banner night for Kelly.
She played in her first regular season game after undergoing treatment for skin cancer throughout the spring and summer. She received more rest than she would have under normal circumstances, but that was the only visible concession Kelly made to the disease.
“She’s getting there,” Bolte said. “A lot of that was heart that you saw out there. She was going to go whether (her strength) was there or not. She shows a lot of guts. She’s not up to full strength yet. It just shows what a tough kid she is.”