• Val T.

Brooke scores 18, but Knox girls beat Pioneer

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

KNOX –- Remi Jordan scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked six shots to lead the Knox girls basketball team to a 46-40 win over Class 1A, No. 2 Pioneer Tuesday.

Knox, a three-time defending sectional champ in Class 3A, improved to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the Hoosier North.

Pioneer fell to 1-1, 1-1.

Olivia Brooke scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half for the Lady Panthers.

Olivia Brooke

Madison Blickenstaff and Hailey Cripe added eight apiece. Blickenstaff also had six rebounds.

But 23 turnovers doomed Pioneer against Knox’s engulfing zone defense. Eight of the turnovers came in the third quarter when they were outscored 12-4.

“When you run a 3-2, that middle person in the zone, it’s their decision,” Pioneer coach Jeff Brooke said of Olivia Brooke. “She did a nice job, I thought, distributing the ball and also taking it to the hoop there, especially in the second quarter. All around, we played, I think, some good defense. Did a nice job when you hold them to 46 points when they’re scoring 61. We just had too many turnovers tonight. When you have that many turnovers, it’s tough to win ballgames.”

Pioneer is 0-6 against Knox since the teams became conference rivals in the 2015-16 season. However, Pioneer has a history of recovering from a loss to Knox. Last year, the Lady Panthers lost to Knox at home in their conference opener but then came back to win their last six conference games and eventually share the conference crown with Knox.

Pioneer led 25-24 at halftime, but Knox opened the second half on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good.

Felicity Olejniczak, a first-team all-Hoosier North player from last year, was held scoreless in the first half but drilled a 3-pointer from right in front of the Knox bench on the first possession of the second half to give Knox a 27-25 lead.

Olejniczak hit Riley Messer for a layup, Megan Bolen went coast to coast for a layup, and Olejniczak capped the run with two free throws to make it 33-25.

Pioneer would get within 36-32 with 6:41 left in the game when Brooklyn Borges would pass from the short corner and find Cripe on the weak side for a 3-pointer.

After a defensive stop, Cripe would get another look at a trey after a Borges pass, but she missed. Olejniczak then buried a 3-pointer on a delayed break going the other way.

What could have been a one-point game was instead a seven-point game.

Coach Brooke thought Bolen’s presence was key. A 6-1 guard who can handle the ball and is also a strong defender, she picked up her second foul with 1:33 left in the first quarter. But she was back for the start of the second half.

“I’ll be honest with you,” coach Brooke said. “Jordan can score a lot of points, but Bolen, number 14, she really gets them going. I think she’s key to their ball team. When she comes in and is able to contribute in the way that she did that second half, that’s hard to stop.”

Preston Minix added nine points for Knox. Bolen and Olejniczak added eight each.

“I told the girls at halftime as bad as we played in that first half, we’re still down just one,” Knox coach Neill Minix said. “Pioneer, they’re a great team. They’ve just got athletes that can jump. Their inside game’s good. And Cripe, the way that she can shoot the ball, you’ve got to know where she’s at all times. But I thought we played just well enough to win.”

Pioneer’s only lead in the first half came in the first minute when Cripe drained a triple to give Pioneer a 3-2 lead. Knox followed with a 7-0 run that included a Messer from the left corner.

Pioneer trailed 15-9 after one quarter but cut the lead to four when Mackenzie Walker scored off a Blickenstaff feed on the first possession of the second quarter.

Pioneer wouldn’t score again for three-and-a-half minutes, and Jordan, a mobile 6-0 post, capped a 7-0 run with two free throws.

Coach Brooke called timeout with 4:25 left in the half, and Olivia Brooke and Blickenstaff spearheaded a 14-2 run to close the half with both Bolen and Olejniczak on the bench with two fouls. Blickenstaff scored on a putback, Walker hit Olivia Brooke in transition, and then Olivia Brooke scored in the mid-post.

After Jordan scored in the post, Brooke found Blickenstaff for two and then scored the next six points herself. When she scored on a putback with 46 seconds left in the half, Pioneer was back up by one.

“We’re going to take it away as a learning experience,” coach Brooke said.

Knox 46, Pioneer 40

PIONEER (40) (1-1, 1-1)

Mackenzie Walker 2 0-0 4, Hailey Cripe 3 0-2 8, Olivia Brooke 8 2-2 18, Brooklyn Borges 1 0-0 2, Madison Blickenstaff 4 0-2 8, Maggie Steffel 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 18 2-6 40

KNOX (46) (5-0, 1-0)

Riley Messer 2 0-2 5, Felicity Olejniczak 2 2-2 8, Preston Minix 3 1-1 9, Megan Bolen 4 0-0 8, Remi Jordan 4 6-8 14, Morgan Downs 0 0-0 0, Madison Moss 1 0-0 2

TEAM: 16 9-13 46

Three-point field goals:

Pioneer 2 (Cripe 2),

Knox 5 (Minix 2, Olejnicak 2, Messer)

Total fouls: Pioneer 11, Knox 8

Turnovers: Pioneer 23, Knox 17

Score by quarters

Pioneer 9 16 4 11 40

Knox 15 9 12 10 46


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