ALEXANDRIA -- The Alexandria Tigers got out of the gate quickly and were never headed as they rolled past a much larger foe Saturday night.
The Tigers stopped the Muncie Central Bearcats 73-56 behind a pair of 20-plus point performances from Jada Stansberry and Reese VanBlair to go 2-0 in the young season.
“This was a big win in building our program,” said Tigers first-year coach Mickey Hosier. “This is the first time we have beaten Muncie Central since the early 2000s.”
Stansberry, a junior, was the catalyst on both ends of the court to getting Alexandria off to a 14-0 head start. She helped force the visitors into 11 first-quarter turnovers and hit all six of her shots. The Tigers were on top 20-5 after one quarter.
“You know, I have a special place in my heart for point guards,” said Hosier of the position he played for Alexandria in high school and at Ball State in college. “She gets us where we need to be on the floor.”
Stansberry had to deal with some foul issues throughout the game, getting called three times for defensive hand checks. She took just one shot in the second quarter, but it was VanBlair and Ally Honeycutt who took up the scoring torch.
Honeycutt drained a quartet of 3-pointers in the second stanza, and VanBlair hit one more to go with a pair of 2-pointers and a free throw. The Tigers backed up a 20-point first quarter with a 26-point second and led 46-24 at intermission.
“Ally was 0-for-10 our first game at Muncie Burris,” said Hosier. “But I fully believed she would hit some of those shots tonight.”
Senior VanBlair played up to expectations, hitting half of her field goals and four free throws for a balanced effort.
Muncie Central had an advantage in height and heft over the Tigers but still only won the rebound battle 32-30.
“We know we’re going to be smaller than everyone we play,” said VanBlair. “But we’re going to go after it and play hard for four quarters. It is so nice to go out there and play and know that everyone has each other's back.”
A full 50% of the Alexandria rebounds came from seniors Maddy Schuyler and Rylee Pyle. The former is 5-foot-8 and the latter 5-6. Schuyler had eight rebounds and seven points, while Pyle had seven boards and was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Schuyler went down in the final seconds with an ankle injury and had to be helped off the floor.
“I asked her if she would be ready for Tuesday (against Delta), and she said ‘Yes,’” said Hosier. “She’s a tough kid, and we’ll see if she can go. But we need her during the season more than we’ll need her Tuesday.”
Central had a 23-point fourth quarter it threw at Alex and once had the lead down to 11. Junior Jasiah Scaife had a game-high 23 points and 16 rebounds for the Bearcats. She had seven of those points in the final eight minutes.
Garynn Sims-Jones added 20 points, including 11 in the final period.
“We had some foul trouble,” admitted Hosier. “But we made enough plays to hold on.”
Some of that holding on involved hitting 23-of-30 from the free-throw line while Muncie was only 11-of-25.