Believe the ‘Cripe:’ Pioneer junior scores 25, disrupts on defense in win over West Lafayette
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ROYAL CENTER –- The Pioneer girls basketball team had two magic numbers against visiting West Lafayette Saturday – 32 and 25.
The 32 is the name of the defense that coach Jeff Brooke called out that helped change the momentum of the game.
As for 25, that’s the number of West Lafayette turnovers that the 32 defense forced, and that’s also the number of points that junior guard Hailey Cripe scored in the Lady Panthers
There is also one more magic number: seven. As in, Pioneer has won seven straight games to improve to 10-3.
Cripe outscored the entire West Lafayette team 20-19 in the second half. Senior forwards Madison Blickenstaff and Olivia Brooke added 14 points each. Brooke also had 14 rebounds, and Blickenstaff had seven.
Kennedy Martin led West Lafayette (9-5) with 14 points. Freshman guard Adrianne Tolen, who came in averaging 16 points per game, was held to four.
Pioneer trailed 17-16 at halftime but opened the second half on an 8-1 run – Olivia Brooke had six points and Cripe had a steal and layup during that time – and never trailed after that.
Pioneer also closed the game with a 14-2 run over the final 5:03 after West Lafayette hung within 41-34.
The fourth quarter run started with Olivia Brooke yanking a steal from the blind side of a
West Lafayette player in the backcourt and feeding Blickenstaff for a layup. Mackenzie Walker hit a left baseline jumper. Blickenstaff scored in transition, Cripe hit two free throws, and then Cripe pick-pocketed a Lady Red Devil ballhandler for a layup. A Cripe free throw made it 52-34. She later added a 3-pointer in the waning seconds.
“She recognized, hey, in the first half, I’m not hitting my outside jumper,” coach Brooke said. “She did a nice job of taking it to the hoop. She’s a very smart, wise ballplayer for her age. I know she’s only a junior, but the more she plays, the smarter and smarter she gets. She knew the outside jumper wasn’t falling, so she took it to the hole and did a nice job.”
West Lafayette had six turnovers in the first half and 19 in the second half. After playing mostly man-to-man defense dating back to a Dec. 15 win at Caston, Brooke switched to a 32 defense when he didn’t like the effectiveness of the man-to-man.
The 32 could be described as a 3-2 or 1-2-2 zone. Coach Brooke said he was wary of using a zone because of West Lafayette’s 3-point marksmanship.
But they made it work. Cripe was on top of the defense, often harassing the Lady Red Devil ballhandler once she crossed halfcourt. Tolen never found a comfort zone, and coach Brooke credited Cripe’s defense for that too.
“We practice that day-in, day-out,” coach Brooke said. “It’s something we do. So I’m going to give them credit. I thought they did a nice job in that first half picking on our man-to-man defense. I mean, I know we only gave up 17, but I thought they did a nice job. If they would have hit some shots, it would have been a different story.
“So I probably should have gone to that … 32 a little bit earlier than I did. They’ve got some great guards in number 22 (Martin), number 10 (Tolen) and number 5 (Sarah Werth), who can knock down the 3, so that’s always scary to go zone. But our girls came out in the second half, and they did a great job coming out and finding those shooters. So I’m really excited and proud of how the girls reacted.”
West Lafayette did not have a senior starter. Pioneer has three senior starters – Brooke, Blickenstaff and Walker.
Blickenstaff said the defense was “slacking” in the first half but praised Cripe for her defense. She said it might have been because it was their third game of the week or because the game was “out of schedule,” being played at noon on a Saturday.
Blickenstaff also said West Lafayette was “definitely” one of the more physical opponents they have faced.
“There were a little elbows on the down low,” Blickenstaff said afterwards. “But we worked through it and were able to be just as aggressive.”
Blickenstaff thrives off her on-court chemistry with Olivia Brooke.
“She’s really good at making other people open, especially me,” Blickenstaff said. “When she drives, she brings all the defense with her and then just gives me the ball. And I know that even if I get the ball, she makes herself open. And it’s just great teamwork.”
Pioneer also won the JV game 21-15. The game was shortened to two quarters. Katelyn Duncan scored 10 points to lead Pioneer. Adeline Cripe scored five, Bryleigh Binney had three, Gracie Hopper had two, and Kylie Attinger had one.
Pioneer 55, West Lafayette 36
WEST LAFAYETTE (36) (9-5)
Sarah Werth 2 0-0 5, Adrianne Tolen 2 0-0 4, Kennedy Martin 5 1-1 14, Kylie Reif 3 2-3 8, Annie Karlaftis 0 2-4 2, Vivian Huston 1 0-0 2, Gabby Trent 0 1-2 1, Reegan Leeper 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 13 6-10 36
PIONEER (55) (10-3)
Mackenzie Walker 1 0-1 2, Hailey Cripe 9 4-9 25, Brooklyn Borges 0 0-0 0, Olivia Brooke 7 0-2 14, Madison Blickenstaff 6 2-4 14, Crystabelle Blickenstaff 0 0-0 0, Maggie Steffel 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 23 6-16 55
Three-point field goals:
West Lafayette 4 (Martin 3, Werth),
Pioneer 3 (Cripe 3)
Total fouls: West Lafayette 17, Pioneer 13
Turnovers: West Lafayette 25, Pioneer 12
Score by quarters
West Lafayette 5 12 13 6 – 36
Pioneer 10 6 20 19 – 55
JV: Pioneer 21, West Lafayette 15