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Unab-Ash-ed: Brooke explodes for 45, helps Pioneer stave off Caston, take Hoosier North lead

Smith scores 33, but Lady Comet suffer first conference loss


Sports Editor, RTC

ROYAL CENTER — Ashlynn Brooke scored 20 of her career-high 45 points in the fourth quarter, and Hailey Cripe added 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Pioneer girls

Ashlynn Brooke

basketball team in a 77-73 Hoosier North home win over Caston Tuesday.

Pioneer beat Caston for the second time this season and improved to 8-2 overall and 3-0 in conference play. They are the lone remaining unbeaten team in the Hoosier North.

Pioneer has beaten Caston 11 times in a row. They also beat Caston 59-55 in the Cass County Invitational championship game on Dec. 4 at Logansport.

Maddi Smith scored a career-high 33 points for Caston (8-3, 3-1). Smith terrorized Pioneer in the post in the second half, scoring 25 points and fouling out both of Pioneer’s starting bigs, Brooklyn Borges and Kylie Attinger.

Addison Zimpleman added 18 points, Bailey Harness had 12, and Isabel Scales had 10.

But Caston committed 19 turnovers as compared to Pioneer’s 10. In the fourth quarter,

Maddi Smith

Caston had five turnovers, and Pioneer had none.

“What a game for girls basketball, right?” Pioneer coach Jeff Brooke said. “We had that cross-county rival, and we had a lead, and then they came back, and they took the lead, and it went back and forth. Just great for girls athletics altogether. What a great group of Caston girls and obviously a great group of Pioneer girls. Just a fun all-around game tonight.”

In the Cass County Invitational, Pioneer couldn’t hang on to an 18-point lead, and Caston rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter before Ashlynn Brooke and Cripe combined for 55 points and helped Pioneer recover for the win.

This time, Caston rallied from 13 down in the second quarter. They went on a 14-2 run in the first three minutes of the second half and tied the game at 43 on a Zimpleman 3-pointer with 5:03 left in the third.

Caston would take their first lead of the half at 51-50 when Smith took a pass from the high post and drove in for a layup with 1:23 left in the third quarter.

“Nothing,” Caston coach Josh Douglass said when asked what adjustments were made to get Smith more involved offensively. “We started moving the ball and stopped forcing shots. We started looking for the mismatches, and we knew she had one coming into the game. We wanted to exploit it. There in the second quarter, they started double-teaming her from the back side, and we didn’t do a good job of reversing the ball once or twice and then hitting it on that third time. And that’s what we talked about at halftime is you’re wide open outside the 3-point line for a reason, because they’re sagging so far down. Dribble in five dribbles and pull up from 10 feet and hit it, or reverse the ball, look for her to flash, and she can catch it, square up and go to the basket then.”

There would be eight more lead changes after that.

Caston took a 61-59 lead on a driving layup from Zimpleman with 4:48 left.

At this point, Pioneer started running a pick-and-roll with Ashlynn Brooke and Cripe.

First, Ashlynn Brooke sidestepped Zimpleman and Harness and answered with a pull-up 15-footer to tie the game.

Cripe flew in after setting a screen and rebounded an Ashlynn Brooke miss and scored on the next possession to put Pioneer ahead for good at 63-61 with 4:07 left.

Another midrange jumper off the bounce from Ashlynn Brooke extended the lead to four.

A Ashlynn Brooke right baseline jumper where she went the opposite direction of the Cripe ball screen made it 69-64.

Meanwhile, Pioneer switched defensively from a man-to-man at the start of the game to a 2-3 zone back to a man-to-man. Ashlynn Brooke switched over to guard Scales while Cripe got the assignment on Smith.

Pioneer would lead by as many as seven in the fourth quarter.

Ashlynn Brooke also made 10 of her 13 free throws in the fourth quarter and 16 for 19 for the game.

“That’s part of our offense is to get Ashlynn off that ball screen first,” coach Brooke said. “And then, you know, if she can create off that ball screen, make the read. Give our bigs credit. They come in there – and even Hailey in that fourth quarter – they know their role, they know their job. Set a good ball screen. Roll. Come up and set the ball screen. Slip it. Set the ball screen. Pick and pop. Credit our bigs for doing what they needed to do, and give credit just to Ashlynn too. She read that right and then continued to penetrate in that middle and pull up for the midrange.”

Caston jumped out to a 12-7 lead, but Pioneer went on a 20-4 run covering the first and second quarters and would take a 32-19 lead. Brooklyn Borges and Makenna Strycker would hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the first quarter as the lead got to 20-15.

In the second quarter, Ashlynn Brooke had a steal and went coast to coast for a 3-point play, and Cripe put in an acrobatic reverse layup in transition while being fouled for another 3-point play to make it 26-17.

Harness scored on a putback, but Mandee Weisenburger hit two free throws, Cripe hit a 15-footer in transition off a Cripe assist, and Ashlynn Brooke hit two free throws as the lead got to 32-19.

“To me, we lost the game in the first half,” Douglass said. “We missed way too many free throws in the first half, and in the second quarter, we fell asleep.”

Caston took the JV game 44-17. Alexa Finke and Olivia Thomas had 11 points each to lead Caston. Emma Kay had nine, Macee Hinderlider had six, Kaitie Hutsell had four, Ann Ulerick had two, and Annie Harsh had one.

Julia McGrew had 10 for Pioneer. Allison McGrew had three, Kaia Murray had two, and Allison Martinez had two.

Pioneer 77, Caston 73

CASTON (73) (8-3, 3-1)

Isabel Scales 3 4-8 10, Addison Zimpleman 5 5-6 18, Bailey Harness 4 4-7 12, Brianna Yarber 0 0-0 0, Maddi Smith 11 11-14 33, Abby Williamson 0 0-0 0, Laura Dammermann 0 0-0 0, Kinzie Mollenkopf 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 23 24-35 73

PIONEER (77) (8-2, 3-0)

Ashlynn Brooke 13 16-19 45, Makenna Strycker 1 2-4 5, Hailey Cripe 8 4-5 22, Kylie Attinger 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Borges 1 0-0 3, Maggie Steffel 0 0-0 0, Mandee Weisenburger 0 2-4 2

TEAM: 23 24-32 77

Three-point field goals:

Caston 3 (Zimpleman 3),

Pioneer 7 (Brooke 3, Cripe 2, Strycker, Borges)

Total fouls: Caston 26, Pioneer 22

Fouled out: Borges (PIO), 6:59, fourth; Attinger (PIO), 2:38, fourth; Harness (CAS), 0:10, fourth

Turnovers: Caston 19, Pioneer 10

Score by quarters

Caston 17 12 25 19 – 73

Pioneer 20 21 12 24 – 77

JV: Caston 44, Pioneer 17

Watch full game here:

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