Layden scores 27, leads Northwestern past RHS
Hughes, Thomas score 8 each, but Lady Zs drop 2nd straight
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
KOKOMO — Northwestern sophomore guard McKenna Layden outscored the entire Rochester girls basketball team by herself Wednesday, pouring in 27 points and leading the Lady Tigers to a 63-26 win over the Lady Zs.
Leah Carter added 16 points, and Ellie Boyer added 12 for Northwestern, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up.
Northwestern is 3-0 this season and 110-9 over the last five years.
Emily Hughes and Lexy Thomas scored eight points each to lead RHS (1-2). Millie Scorsone and Kami Burkett scored four each, and Kim Batten scored two.
Thomas also had seven rebounds.
But RHS had only 10 made baskets as compared to 24 turnovers. They also made just five of 17 free throws.
RHS coach Brian Jennings also cited defense as a concern. The Lady Zs are giving up 64 points per game.
“Our biggest problem is that we stare at the basketball,” Jennings said. “And that was our two main things that we discussed about in our game plan was when we are in man-to-man, they do the push-down play, where we kind of overload one side, they turn quick to the one person on the weak side and then cut back door, and we knew it was coming, and we still got caught staring at the ball and we embarrassed ourselves tonight.
“And then we would go to the zone, we said they will do the same thing. We’ll get five people staring at the ball. They’ll cut a back-side lob, and if you don’t see the weak-side players in a zone defense, you’re going to give up a lot of points, and we sure did.”
Northwestern went on an 18-0 run covering the first and second quarters to build a 22-3 lead. Layden scored the first 11 points of the run, putting back her own miss as part of a 3-point play, hitting two free throws and then burying a pair of 3-pointers.
Layden then found Emily Newell for a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Boyer scored on a steal and a layup. For the first quarter, Layden scored 11 of Northwestern’s 20 points and assisted on three of the four baskets she didn’t score.
Carter scored 10 points in the post in the second quarter as the lead reached 36-12 at halftime.
Meanwhile, Northwestern often played a 2-3 matchup zone, jumping on the Lady Z ballhandler as soon as she crossed halfcourt.
RHS is averaging 27.7 turnovers per game.
“We weren’t aggressively attacking,” Jennings said. “They were extending their defense out, and they’ve got long arms out front. And we tried to pass around them instead of trying to penetrate in trying to get past and make bounce passes. We tried to throw through arms when we did make passes. We didn’t work to get open very well on the wings, and when we just stand out there, it’s pretty easy to read that pass and tip it away.”
Northwestern coach Kathie Layden complimented players like Hughes, Thomas and Scorsone but also said her team will have to apply more pressure on the ball.
“One thing that we talked about is I didn’t feel like we put enough ball pressure to help our post players,” coach Layden said. “Because their post players were so physically strong, and we needed to put more ball pressure to prevent those passes from coming in. They were really hard to stop inside. They were physical, good plays inside. So that was difficult for us. The easy we tried to adjust was just putting more ball pressure, so they couldn’t make the easy passes in.”
Another Lady Z concern might be free throw shooting. RHS made just seven of 19 from the line in this game, and they are shooting just 49 percent from the line through three games.
“It’s a big concern, but what’s amazing is when people report their free throws in practice, we’re seven out of 10 and eight out of 10, and then we get to the game, so we’re not practicing something right, so we’re going to make some changes (in practice Thursday),” Jennings said.
This was a new addition to the schedule for both teams.
“We’ll play anybody,” coach Layden said. “We love to play competition. And playing teams like this ultimately makes us better.”
The JV game was canceled.
Northwestern 63, Rochester 26
ROCHESTER (26) (1-2)
Kami Burkett 1 1-2 4, Emma Howdeshell 0 0-0 0, Kaitlin Rogers 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Jackson 0 0-0 0, Lexy Thomas 2 4-4 8, Kallie Watson 0 0-0 0, Kim Batten 0 2-3 2, Sydney Haughs 0 0-0 0, Emily Hughes 4 0-8 8, Millie Scorsone 2 0-2 4
TEAM: 9 7-19 26
NORTHWESTERN (63) (3-0)
Ashley Newell 2 0-0 6, Ellie Boyer 6 0-0 12, Bailey Henry 1 0-0 2, McKenna Layden 9 6-7 27, Leah Carter 7 2-7 16, Joan Easter 0 0-0 0, Megan York 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 25 8-14 63
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 1 (Burkett),
Northwestern 5 (Layden 3, Newell 2)
Total fouls: Rochester 15, Northwestern 16
Turnovers: Rochester 24, Northwestern 17
Score by quarters
Rochester 3 9 6 8 – 26
Northwestern 20 16 13 14 – 63