Girls Basketball Falls To Marion

Posted on November 13, 2019 in Girl's Basketball, Winter Sports

BY SCOTT HUNT – shunt@chronicle-tribune.com
CONVERSE – The girls basketball team’s from Marion and Oak Hill are mirror images of each other this season, each with a potential Indiana All-Star and a steady, an experienced guard, and surrounded by several others learning on the fly at the varsity level.

Both the Giants and Golden Eagles are playing up a class as well this season, Marion in 4A and Oak Hill in 3A, so while Tuesday’s regular season meeting wasn’t pretty at times, it was highly competitive and wasn’t decided until the final seconds.

In the end, it was the Giants, led by RaShaya Kyle’s 22-point, 13-rebound performance topping the Golden Eagles and Taylor Westgate’s 16 points and 10 boards, 36-31.

Most importantly, it was a step forward for two inexperienced but improving teams.

The Golden Eagles committed 33 turnovers in their season-opening loss to Norwell last week, while the Giants had more than 30 miscues in a loss to North Central Conference foe Harrison on Saturday. The two teams combined for 33 on Tuesday.

“They’re down, they’re frustrated but we told them afterwards it’s going to take a little time,” said Oak Hill coach Todd Law, whose team committed 18 turnovers. “We nearly cut our turnovers in half in the second game and that was one goal that we had.

“They’re getting better and they fought the whole way. We just could not get shots to go down today,” he added. “It’s hard to win when you can’t get the ball to go in the basket.”

Meanwhile, the Giants turned it over 15 times, but defensively limited Oak Hill to 11-of-42 shooting (26 percent) from the field. Outside of Kyle, senior guard Ellie Vermilion and junior Olivia Aguilar, Giants’ coach Lawrence Jordan’s other four players were experiencing varsity basketball for just the third game of their careers.

“I want it for them, but there is nothing like game experience and that’s what I’ve been telling my girls, its just game minutes and it’s a lack of experience that’s costing us,” Jordan said. “I’m lucky to have Ellie. I’m lucky to have RaShaya and I can kind of hide the other two or three players in spurts.

“(Senior) Kaliyah Jones does a good job, I’ve just got to get her to play with confidence,” he added. “The other girls are making careless mistakes.”

The obvious centers of attention for both teams were the 6-foot-6 Kyle, who will sign her letter of intent to play for Purdue this evening, and Westgate, who is committed to Taylor University to continue her career.

Finding shots wasn’t easy for either girl, yet both turned in productive performances and carried their respective teams.

Kyle hit 10-of-19 from the field but found two and three Eagle defenders around her at nearly all times in the post. She showed the ability to step out on the floor and knock down jump shots at key times for the Giants.

“I thought we defended her excellent inside,” Law said of Kyle. “What we didn’t do a good job of was contesting her jump shot. A least half of those (points) were just flat out jump shots.”

Westgate also received constant double- and triple-teams by the Giants and finished 6-of-17 from the field and 4-of-6 from the foul line.

“She’s a load down there,” Jordan said of Westgate’s post presence. “She’s probably a division I player even though I know she signed with Taylor, but Taylor has a great program.

“I was just running a double (team) at her anytime she got it,” he added. “What I was trying to do was, have Ellie come down in the 3-2 and double her in the post and make it difficult for her. Taylor is going get a keeper when they get her. She’s really good.”

Marion led 11-6 after one quarter and 18-12 at halftime. Kyle led the Giants with eight points while Abby Shaw’s two triples in the first and Westgate’s three two-pointers in the second accounted for all Oak Hill’s scoring.

Westgate quickly scored seven more points in the opening 2:20 of the second half, with a three-point play and two other field goals that put Oak Hill on top 19-18.

“She works hard. She’s continuously moving all over the court,” Kyle said of Westgate. “Every player’s got to keep their head on a swivel for her. She’s always trying to get open no matter how hard the defense is.”

Kyle responded by scoring all eight of the Giants’ third quarter points over the final 3:25 as Marion finished on an 8-2 run and with a 26-21 lead entering the final eight minutes.

Kyle extended her streak to 10 straight points with the first basket of the fourth quarter by either team with just over 5:30 to play.

After a Westgate free throw, Vermilion scored on a layup to extend Marion’s lead to its largest of the game at 30-22 with 3:15 to play.

A Westgate three-point play and Shaw’s third 3-pointer surrounded a basket by Kyle, before Westgate converted 1-of-2 from the foul line to pull Oak Hill within 32-29 with just under two minutes remaining.

Vermilion knocked down both ends of a 1-and-1 with 23 seconds remaining, Coleena Selleck did the same for Oak Hill just four seconds later, before Kyle iced the game with her only two free throws with 16 seconds left.

The game was the final of four meetings between Westgate and Kyle during standout careers for both.

“Personally, I’ve loved playing against her, she’s one of my favorite players to play against,” Westgate said of Kyle. “She has a ton of talent and I just like a challenge. We definitely zoned in on her all week making sure there were always two (defenders) on her.”

Vermilion finished with nine points and five assists from the Giants while Aguilar added three points and Shalay Jones had two.

Shaw chipped in with nine for Oak Hill while Carlee Biddle, Kate Hornocker and Selleck had two each for Oak Hill. Shaw and Biddle both had four rebounds and the Eagles won the battle of the boards 27-20.

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