Scales, Harness score in double figures, but North White beats Caston for sectional title
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
MONON — Abigale Spry scored nine of her game-high 13 points in the second quarter, and Hannah Cosgray added 12 to lead the North White girls basketball team to a 44-35 win over Caston in the Class 1A, Sectional 52 final at North White Tuesday.
North White won their sixth straight game and improved to 18-6. They won their fifth sectional title in coach Bryan Heimlich’s eight years as coach, but it was their first since 2018.
North White will play Kouts in a Class 1A Caston regional semifinal at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Fort Wayne Blackhawk and Argos will meet in the second semifinal at approximately 12:30 p.m., and the winners return at 8 p.m. for the regional final.
Isabel Scales scored 11 points, and Bailey Harness added 10 for Caston, who finished 18-6. Caston’s only two losses against other Class 1A teams came against North White. Caston also lost to North White 42-29 in their regular season meeting on Nov. 12.
Caston has improved from five wins to 15 to 18 in the last three seasons, but they remain without a sectional title since 1985.
Caston trailed 31-22 going into the fourth quarter but went on a 9-0 run to start the quarter. They tied it on Addison Zimpleman’s two free throws with 5:02 left.
A bad Caston pass led to a turnover, which led to Caitlyn Conn’s transition bucket off a Lauren Annis assist that put North White back ahead 33-31.
A Conn free throw made it 34-31 with 2:56 left.
Maddi Smith muscled home a post layup off a Scales assist from the right elbow to make it 34-33 with 2:35 left.
But Lauren Annis buried a 19-footer from in front of the North White bench with 2:21 left, and the Lady Vikings went 8 for 8 from the foul line – Cosgray alone was 6 for 6 – in the final 1:26 to pull away.
Douglass disagreed with a traveling call on Zimpleman in the fourth quarter in which he thought Zimpleman was fouled. He also said that a kicked ball call on Smith with 48.8 seconds left should not have been called a kicked ball since he felt there was no kicking motion and that a North White player dribbled the ball into Smith’s leg.
But Caston also had eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“Honestly, we had a couple turnovers there, but I felt like there were a couple calls we didn’t get that kind of really help turn that too,” Caston coach Josh Douglass said. “And then they made some shots there, and they definitely made their free throws to get that lead back.”
Caston went 18-1 in games in which they scored at least 40 points but 0-5 when they did not. North White was responsible for two of those five losses. Caston averaged 49.9 points per game but only 32 in two meetings against North White and their 2-3 zone.
North White’s two guards on top of the zone played especially wide, according to Caston coach Josh Douglass. That meant that it was important to get the ball to the high post.
“With their size inside, you just can’t go down and post somebody,” Douglass said. “You’ve got to be able to knock down some outside shots. And we did hit a couple tonight. The heart of it is getting it in the middle of their zone, which you saw we had a lot of success when we got it into the middle of their zone. The big thing is we were sometimes a little too slow to see that middle. That ball needed to be there quicker was the only problem.
“But that’s basketball though. That’s learning. They ran their zone really wide tonight up top with the middle being wide open, and we saw that on film and tried to take advantage of it, but we just didn’t take advantage of it enough in the end.”
Meanwhile, on their defensive end, Caston had to maneuver through a maze of screens to cover shooters like Spry and Cosgray, but they also had to respect the post presence of both Robertson and Conn.
“From the first game to this game, we did a lot better,” Douglass said of defending and communicating through the screens. “We had some times in there where we forgot what we were supposed to do defensively. … We were going to front the post tonight. We were not going to chase up, and every once in awhile, we got caught doing those types of things. Our guards weren’t supposed to drop all the way to the blocks because we knew the guard was going to come back out top. We got caught up in that a couple times, but for the most part, I’m particularly happy with the girls. North White did not have many open looks. … They hit some contested shots.”
Caston jumped out to a 10-2 lead. Highlights included Zimpleman draining a 3-pointer from the left corner and Scales yanking the ball from a North White player from just underneath her basket and dropping in a layup.
But North White answered with a 12-2 run covering the first and second quarters and took their first lead when Spry hit a pullup 12-footer with 3:44 left in the half.
A Scales driving layup tied the game, and Smith’s free throw with 1:57 left gave Caston what turned out to be their final lead of the season at 15-14.
A Spry right baseline jumper gave North White the lead with 1:41 left, and that started a 10-0 North White run covering the second and third quarters.
An Annis 3-pointer and a Robertson transition layup at the outset of the second half made it 24-15 before Scales broke a three-and-a-half minute scoring drought with an 18-footer from the left wing.
A pair of similar-looking Harness 15-footers from the high post cut the lead to 24-21, but Conn hit on a driving banker. She was fouled but missed the free throw trying for a 3-point play.
Scales split a pair of free throws, but Cameryn Scott knocked down a triple after an offensive rebound, and Conn hit a short banker to get the lead back to nine going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started with a Scales driving banker past three North White defenders. Both Scales and Brianna Yarber drew North White charging fouls. Annis missed two free throws.
Zimpleman hit a 3-pointer after Scales kicked out from the high post. Scales got two feet in the paint on Caston’s next possession and dropped down to Harness for an open layup. The lead was down to two.
Zimpleman then stepped into the passing lane on a kickout pass and drove to the other end. Spry fouled her on a shot attempt, and Zimpleman, who finished with eight points, had a chance to tie the game less than three minutes after they trailed by nine.
Caston loses starters Smith and Yarber and reserve Abby Williamson to graduation, but Scales, Zimpleman and Harness figure to be back. Kinzie Mollenkopf is a top reserve who also could return. The Caston JV also went 18-2.
“Everybody’s got to keep working,” Douglass said. “So I feel the future is bright. Will it be an 18-win season? I don’t know. We’ve got a really good schedule right now. Hopefully it is. Hopefully it’s better. Hopefully we’re cutting down those nets this time next year.”
North White 44, Caston 35
NORTH WHITE (44) (18-6)
Hannah Cosgray 2 7-8 12, Abigale Spry 5 2-2 13, Lauren Annis 2 0-2 5, Caitlyn Conn 3 1-3 7, Tessa Robertson 2 0-0 4, Callie Hunt 0 0-0 0, Cameryn Scott 1 0-0 3
TEAM: 15 10-15 44
CASTON (35) (18-6)
Isabel Scales 5 1-2 11, Addison Zimpleman 2 2-2 8, Bailey Harness 5 0-0 10, Brianna Yarber 0 0-0 0, Maddi Smith 2 1-2 5, Abby Williamson 0 0-0 0, Kinzie Mollenkopf 0 1-2 1
TEAM: 14 5-8 35
Three-point field goals:
North White 4 (Spry, Cosgray, Annis, Scott),
Caston 2 (Zimpleman 2)
Total fouls: North White 15, Caston 19
Fouled out: Zimpleman (CAS), :9.5, fourth
Turnovers: North White 11, Caston 16
Score by quarters
North White 7 12 12 13 – 44
Caston 10 5 7 13 – 35
Girls basketball: Caston 51, Tri-County 35 (Feb. 4)
Maddi Smith had 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead three players in double figures as the Caston girls basketball team beat Tri-County to advance to the Class 1A, Sectional 52 finals on Feb. 4.
Isabel Scales added 12 points, and Brianna Yarber had 10.
Scales also had a team-high nine assists and five rebounds.
Addison Zimpleman had six points and four assists while Bailey Harness had five points and five rebounds. Kinzie Mollenkopf had two points.
Caston outscored Tri-County 13-3 in the second quarter to take a 24-15 halftime lead. They extended the lead to 38-24 after three quarters.
Caston also defeated Tri-County 57-24 on Jan. 15 in their regular season meeting.
Caston and Tri-County have played eight sectional games against each other over the last 15 years. Each team has won four times.
TRI-COUNTY (35) (10-10)
Warren 5 2-4 14, Durando 0 0-0 0, Schambach 0 0-0 0, Zarse 3 0-3 7, Taulman 0 2-2 2, Arvin 3 3-5 9, Whitmire 1 1-2 3
TEAM: 12 8-16 35
CASTON (51) (18-6)
Isabel Scales 4 3-6 12, Addison Zimpleman 1 3-6 6, Bailey Harness 2 1-2 5, Brianna Yarber 4 0-0 10, Maddi Smith 7 2-2 16, Alexa Finke 0 0-0 0, Kinzie Mollenkopf 1 0-0 2, Emma Kay 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 19 9-16 51
Three-point field goals:
Tri-County 3 (Warren, Zarse),
Caston 4 (Yarber 2, Zimpleman, Scales)
Total fouls: Tri-County 12, Caston 16
Turnovers: Tri-County 10, Caston 19
Score by quarters
Tri-County 12 3 9 11 – 35
Caston 11 13 14 13 – 51
Brianna Yarber Maddi Smith Abby Williamson