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  • Val T.

Pioneer can’t hold early 6-point lead, falls to Delphi in Indiana Kitchen Classic semis

McKaig leads Lady Panthers with 11


Sports Editor, RTC

DELPHI — Jenna Roth scored 12 of her game-high 15 points in the second half, and Lexi Miller and Taylor Wells added 10 apiece to lead the Delphi girls basketball team to a 55-44 win over Pioneer at Oracle Arena in the semifinals of the Indiana Kitchen Classic Tuesday.

Mia McKaig led Pioneer with 11 points. Limited by foul trouble – she picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter – junior point guard and season leading scorer Makenna Strycker added nine. Lois Layer added eight, and Jocelyn Kain had seven off the bench.

Delphi relied on two big runs. Trailing 9-3 in the first quarter, they went on a 13-1 run covering the first and second quarters to grab a 16-10 lead even though top scorer Roth picked up two fouls in the first quarter.

“We hadn’t seen that speed in awhile really,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said of Delphi’s Roth and Lacey Pickering. “Overall, I feel like this year our transition D has been pretty good, but their speed just kind of got us. It may be due to them having to sit quite a bit in the first half, and that was a key for us. We said, ‘Drive their hip. They’re going to be aggressive. Let’s try and get them in foul trouble.’ We got both of them in foul trouble in the first half, but they also came in fresh for the second half.”

Delphi also went on a 12-3 run to open the second half, which Roth capped with a bucket in transition to make it 35-20.

“It was the start of the second half,” Delphi first-year coach David Gilbert said. “We had a couple of our top players in foul trouble in the first half, and we were able to get them back in to start the second half, and what we talked about at halftime was those first three or four minutes, really push and extend that lead out, and we were really able to do that. We were able to turn up the pressure a little bit and create some turnovers. Those first three minutes were really critical.”

Delphi’s onslaught would continue on their home floor, and they would build the lead to as big as 50-26 on a Pickering free throw with 5:09 left.

Pioneer was coming off a 48-14 win over winless Frankfort in their first-round game Monday. Delphi had drubbed Taylor 57-19 on Monday.

Delphi improved to 10-5, equaling their win total from last year. Pioneer fell to 4-9.

Pickering opened up the scoring with a 3-pointer, but Strycker’s midrange left baseline jumper, a Layer transition layup after a Delphi miss, a McKaig 3-pointer and two Strycker free throws gave the Lady Panthers a 9-3 lead just 2:45 into the game.

“We jumped out pretty fast,” Berry said. “Maybe some of the best offense to start a game that we’ve had. We built a lead, and then we just lost our legs a little bit in the second quarter. … We kept it close. We kept it within striking distance at halftime, but then Delphi did what they do, and they started running the floor with Pickering and Roth started having a little 1-2, pushing it up, helping each other out. Their speed got us there in the third quarter.”

Pioneer’s backcourt continues to develop with the freshmen Layer and Kain to help out Strycker and McKaig.

“That’s what we need both of them to do,” Berry said. “You know, we started to do that a little bit with Jocelyn real early in the season. Then, she got sick and had to miss quite a bit of the season. She’s just now getting her legs back, but that’s stuff she’s shown us in practice. We have those two pressure us quite a bit, especially Jocelyn on scout (team), and she’s shown us she can get some varsity minutes, and she’s started to slow down offensively taking care of the ball. And then Lois, she just keeps improving each game. … She’s starting to get more confidence with the ball in her hands and more confidence driving. Her doing that is going to open up our shooters, or she’s going to have a lane to the hole.”

This was Pioneer’s fourth game in five days.

“I think fatigue really hit us,” Berry said. “We knew it was going to be a grind.”

Berry said that senior forward Gracie Hopper will miss at least two more weeks with a leg injury.

Delphi will play Winamac at 2 p.m. Saturday in the final. Winamac defeated North Montgomery 65-48 on Wednesday in their semifinal. Pioneer will play North Montgomery for third place at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The Pioneer boys lost to Frankfort 72-39 on Monday and will play Delphi in a consolation round game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Delphi.

Delphi 55, Pioneer 44

PIONEER (44) (4-9)

Makenna Strycker 3 3-5 9, Mia McKaig 4 2-2 11, Lois Layer 2 4-10 8, Kynzie Hathaway 1 0-0 2, Julia McGrew 2 1-2 5, Casey Webb 0 0-2 0, Jocelyn Kain 2 2-5 7, Hannah Zeigler 1 0-0 2

TEAM: 15 12-26 44

DELPHI (55) (10-5)

Lacey Pickering 2 1-2 6, Jenna Roth 6 1-3 15, Abby Brown 0 0-0 0, Lexi Miller 2 6-8 10, Maddy Brown 2 2-2 6, Karmen McIlrath 0 0-0 0, Tania Vasquez 1 0-2 3, Taylor Wells 4 2-4 10, Airy Lattimore 0 0-0 0, Sarah Perry 0 0-0 0, Nikita Lear 1 3-4 5, Payton Morrow 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 18 15-25 55

Three-point field goals:

Pioneer 2 (McKaig, Kain),

Delphi 4 (Roth 2, Pickering, Vasquez)

Total fouls: Pioneer 20, Delphi 19

Turnovers: Pioneer 17, Delphi 19

Score by quarters

Pioneer 10 7 7 20 44

Delphi 13 10 19 13 55

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