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  • Val T.

Pioneer girls win 3rd straight Cass County Invite

Brooke wins tourney MVP; Blickenstaff, Cripe also make all-tourney team


Sports Editor, RTC

The Berry Bowl is becoming the home away from home for the Pioneer girls basketball team.

Just over nine months after beating Blue River in the semistate for perhaps the greatest win in program history on the same Berry Bowl floor, the Lady Panthers toppled Logansport 48-29 to win the Cass County Invitational title Saturday.

Olivia Brooke scored 17 points, and Madison Blickenstaff added 16 points and 12 rebounds for Class 1A, No. 3 Pioneer, who won their third straight Cass County Invitational and improved to 3-1.

Brooke was selected tournament MVP in voting done by the media and revealed in a brief postgame ceremony. Blickenstaff and Hailey Cripe, who had eight points, eight rebounds and three steals, also made the all-tournament team.

“The girls had a goal at the start of the season, and this is one of the goals,” Pioneer coach Jeff Brooke said. “So I’m excited they were able to achieve that goal today. Credit Logan. I thought they did a nice job and had a good game plan, but I just think Blickenstaff and Brooke today down low were just a little too much for them.”

Gabby Richie scored 10 points for Logansport (1-3). Freshman reserve guard Lydia Goad hit three 3-pointers in the second half and scored nine. Richie and teammate Malia Roberts also made the all-tournament team.

Brooke is listed at 5-10, and Blickenstaff is listed at 6-0. Logansport had no player taller than 5-9, and the Pioneer bigs were effective at beating Logansport down the court and establishing post position. Coach Brooke calls Olivia Brooke and Blickenstaff “rim runners.”

“We do that every single practice for 10 minutes,” Brooke explained. “We just run transition non-stop. That’s something we want, even when we’re tired and our brains want to shut down. We want that to be muscle memory.”

Brooke also hit a 3-pointer, her first of the season.

“I don’t shoot them very often,” a smiling Brooke said. “My younger sister (Ashlynn) has the 3s locked down. I can’t really beat her. ... It’s always fun when they go in though.”

Pioneer led 26-9 at halftime, but Logansport cut a 19-point deficit down to 34-24 on a Richie 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.

“They didn’t shoot the ball very well,” coach Brooke said. “It could have been a different story if they would have shot the ball a little differently. They shot the ball well in the third and fourth quarters, but the first half, they struggled a little bit, and I think that gave us an advantage.”

Mackenzie Walker responded by pouring in a 15-footer, and the Pioneer defense held the Lady Berries to just two points in the final five minutes. Pioneer led by as many as 20 in the final minute.

“Joey Walker doesn’t get enough credit, but she does it day in and day out,” coach Brooke said. “She doesn’t want the glory, but boy, she works hard.”

As for Cripe, she has had to adapt with both Ashlynn Brooke and Macee Baker out with injuries. Though she scored 13 fewer points against Logansport than against Caston in the first round, she affects the game in multiple ways.

“It’s kind of like the start of last year with Ashlynn out and not running the ‘1’ (point guard), Hailey does a nice job and comes in, and she really pushes the tempo,” coach Brooke said. “At the end of last year when we made our tournament run, her role switched to a ‘2’ guard, which she’s more natural at. … But she does a wonderful job. I think you could probably play her at the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 position, and she would still excel just because she’s such a hard worker.”

Pioneer 48, Logansport 29

PIONEER (48) (3-1)

Mackenzie Walker 1 0-0 2, Maggie Steffel 0 0-0 0, Hailey Cripe 3 1-4 8, Olivia Brooke 7 2-2 17, Madison Blickenstaff 7 2-5 16, Bryleigh Binney 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Borges 1 2-4 5, Kylie Attinger 0 0-0 0, Katelyn Duncan 0 0-1 0

TEAM: 19 7-16 48

LOGANSPORT (29) (1-3)

Gabby Richie 4 0-0 10, Erica White 1 0-0 2, Malia Roberts 1 0-0 2, Kendra Sutton 1 0-2 2, Ryann Wylie 1 0-0 2, Laney Pearson 0 0-0 0, Lydia Goad 3 0-0 9, Chloe Crook 0 0-0 0, Taylor Hamm 1 0-0 2

TEAM: 12 0-2 29

Three-point field goals:

Pioneer 3 (Brooke, Cripe, Borges),

Logansport 5 (Goad 3, Richie 2)

Total fouls: Pioneer 8, Logansport 10

Turnovers: Pioneer 19, Logansport 20

Score by quarters

Pioneer 15 11 7 15 48

Logansport 7 2 9 11 29

Pioneer junior guard Maggie Steffel cuts down a piece of the net at the Berry Bowl at Logansport High School after the Lady Panthers defeated Logansport 48-29 to win the team’s third consecutive Cass County Invitational title.

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