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  • Val T.

Broo1Ke: Ashlynn reaches milestone, scores 31 in Pioneer win over Knox


Sports Editor, RTC

KNOX — Ashlynn Brooke said that she is not naturally patient, but the Pioneer senior point guard reached a milestone that might well be a tribute to her patience and perseverance against host Knox Friday.

Brooke finished with a game-high 31 points, and Pioneer used a 20-0 run covering the second and third quarters to earn a 58-41 win over the host Lady Redskins in their Hoosier North opener.

Brooklyn Borges added eight, and Pioneer got 13 combined bench points from Crystabelle Blickenstaff and Paula Collado Fernandez.

Morgan Downs hit six 3-pointers and led Knox with 18 points, and Riley Messer added 15.

Pioneer improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Hoosier North. Knox dropped to 0-5, 0-1.

Pioneer won their 10th straight conference game dating back to the 2020-21 season, but this was also Pioneer’s first ever road win over Knox.

Brooke came in needing five points for 1,000 for her career. She reached that mark on a pull-up 15-footer from the foul line with 1:04 left in the first quarter.

The game was briefly stopped as Brooke was given the game ball, and she posed for photos with her parents Jeff and Angela.

Ashlynn has had three knee surgeries since the summer before her freshman season. It took her fewer than 55 games to reach 1,000 points.

“Pretty high,” Ashlynn said when asked to rank the accomplishment. “As someone who’s watched people grow up and hit 1,000 points, that’s one of the goals. I would have wanted to hit it earlier, but I’m blessed to be on the court tonight hitting it. So it’s up there.”

Knox still led 16-13 at the time, and they extended the lead to 22-16 in the second quarter after two Downs treys, one from the left wing and one from the top of the key.

That’s when the 20-0 run started.

Blickenstaff hit a 15-footer, Brooke scored on an off-balance floater on a third chance, and Collado Fernandez scored on a putback off a Makenna Strycker miss to tie the game.

Borges’ free throw with 2:19 left put Pioneer ahead for good at 23-22. A scoop banker in transition from Collado Fernandez got the lead to three. Another Brooke pull-up 15-footer made it 27-22. Borges split a pair of free throws with 37.4 seconds left in the half, and Brooke got the lead to 30-22 at halftime on a putback.

“I just think the ball movement and getting the ball around to the people in scoring positions,” Pioneer coach Jeff Brooke said of the second-quarter run. “I thought Brooklyn Borges did a really nice job in that second quarter. We appreciate Brooklyn in all that she does. She’s kind of a Swiss army knife if you would say.

“And we started hitting some shots. That first quarter (was) a little rough, right? And they were hitting shots. We couldn’t find them, so credit our defense, especially in the second quarter and the second half.”

At the outset, Knox extended their trademark 2-3 zone, meeting Ashlynn Brooke as she crossed halfcourt. Coach Brooke asked often for hand-check fouls.

“She did a nice job not going all out and trying to pull out,” coach Brooke said. “She went all out, paused, and then she attacked, and I thought she did a good job doing that. And you could tell when she started hitting her jumper. So we will continue to do that. This is what teams are going to do to her. I thought they were pretty physical in that first half – hand-checking, hand-checking, hand-checking. The referees didn’t like my comments, but I don’t like that they let her hand-check. But I think she did a nice job adjusting, and then we adjusted offensively, kind of spread the ball and made them come out and get everybody.”

And then came the third quarter, when Pioneer’s “33” defense extended close to halfcourt, and Ashlynn Brooke got torrid from 3-point range as the Lady Panthers pulled away.

The first 3-pointer made it 33-22, and a 22-footer off the dribble followed shortly thereafter to stretch the lead to 14.

A steal and layup in transition made it 40-24. Messer scored on a sharp cut to the basket, but Brooke hit a high-degree-of-difficulty fadeaway triple from the dead right corner and then hit another 3 after a kick-out assist from Kylie Attinger.

The lead was now 46-26, and Knox never got closer than 15 after that.

Brooke added six points in the fourth quarter before sitting out the final 3:09. In the second half, she outscored the entire Knox team 20-19.

“They were just staying on me in their zone,” Ashlynn Brooke said. “It wasn’t a face-guard, but they were just staying with me off of the zone.”

So she said she had to be patient and not force her shot.

“For me it is,” Ashlynn Brooke said when asked if patience is a skill. “I don’t have a lot of patience in general in life, but we’re getting there.”

Pioneer 58, Knox 41

PIONEER (58) (3-0, 1-0)

Makenna Strycker 0 0-0 0, Ashlynn Brooke 12 2-2 31, Gracie Hopper 1 0-2 2, Kylie Attinger 2 0-3 4, Brooklyn Borges 2 4-6 8, Crystabelle Blickenstaff 3 0-0 6, Paula Collado Fernandez 3 1-2 7, Julia McGrew 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 23 7-15 58

KNOX (41) (0-5, 0-1)

Riley Messer 5 5-6 15, Kadence Qualls 1 0-0 2, Ellah Fairchild 1 0-0 2, Morgan Downs 6 0-0 18, Portland Minix 1 1-2 4, Rylan Jordan 0 0-0 0, Rose Webb 0 0-1 0

TEAM: 14 6-9 41

Three-point field goals:

Pioneer 5 (Brooke 5),

Knox 7 (Downs 6, Minix)

Total fouls: Pioneer 13, Knox 14

Turnovers: Pioneer 14, Knox 17

Score by quarters

Pioneer 15 15 16 12 – 58

Knox 16 6 6 13 – 41

Pioneer senior guard Ashlynn Brooke was honored during a brief ceremony at Knox High School Friday after she scored her 1,000th career point with 1:04 left in the first quarter. Brooke hit five 3-pointers and finished with 31 points in the Lady Panthers’ 58-41 win. From left – Angela Brooke, Ashlynn’s mother; Ashlynn; Jeff Brooke, Ashlynn’s father and Pioneer’s coach.

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