By KEVIN HARRIS
In his 16 seasons as a high school girls’ basketball coach in Indiana, Borden coach Terry Rademacher has built a reputation as a defensive mastermind.
On Thursday night at Spurgeon Gymnasium, Rademacher came up with another great defensive plan and his players executed it to end archrival Henryville’s seven-game winning streak, 36-33.
The Braves’ main focus was to contain Henryville’s leading scorer, Emily Hollis, and they held Hollis to only four points. The freshman guard shot only 2-of-8 from the field and missed both of her 3-point attempts.
Drawing the defensive assignment on Hollis was Borden senior Leslie Beatty, who shadowed Hollis throughout the game, whether the Braves played man-to-man or zone defense.
“Beatty did a good job on her,” Rademacher said. “Leslie works very hard and she’s quick. We had a total team defensive effort. We scrapped on loose balls and rebounds.”
Henryville coach Josh Conrad says Hollis has been struggling with her shot since scoring 23 points in a 57-53 overtime victory at Southwestern on Jan. 10.
“It’s been two games in a row where Emily hasn’t had her feet set,” Conrad said. “But she’s going to rebound from it. She’s going to help us out toward the end of the season.”
For the game, Henryville (10-7, 2-3 Southern Athletic Conference) shot 13-of-45 from the field (28.9 percent). Conrad said his girls struggled to get anything going on offense because of Borden’s intense defensive pressure.
“Borden did a great job applying pressure to us and making us kind of get out of our offense,” Conrad said. “We didn’t really execute, but I think they were giving us a lot of openings that we didn’t take advantage of like back-door cuts. We got into the lane, but we shot off-balance shots and I think that kind of hurt us.”
The Hornets’ zone defense was just as effective as Borden’s defense. The Braves (8-6, 2-2) connected on only 12-of-45 field-goal attempts (26.7 percent) and misfired on all 10 of their 3-point tries. Borden had no one score in double digits.
Rademacher gave credit to Henryville’s defense for preventing the Braves from snapping the 40-point mark for the third time in four games. But the Borden coach also said his team’s offense was out of sync.
“It’s always a combination of both,” Rademacher said. “Their defense had direction in what they are trying to do. They were quick and they were zoning up.”
Leading 25-24 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Braves scored the period’s first four points to build a 29-24 advantage. Junior Abby Ellis made a layup off a fast break after a steal and assist by Borden point guard Shelby Kirchgessner. Teammate Kristen Nestor then knocked down two free throws.
But the Hornets got to within 29-28 after back-to-back buckets by Hollis and freshman forward Emma Hendricks.
Borden got its lead back up to five at 35-30 after Carson Casey made 1-of-2 foul shots with 38.2 seconds remaining in regulation. But a 3 by Chelsea LaMotte from the right corner off an assist from Jasmine Harrell sliced Henryville’s deficit to 35-33 with 14.2 seconds left.
Nestor hit a free throw with 7.1 ticks remaining to give Borden a three-point advantage.
After that, Harrell missed a shot from the right wing as the ball went out of bounds. Then Casey ended the game by intercepting a Hollis inbounds pass. In the final quarter, Borden converted 7-of-12 from the line.
“It was hard-fought all the way down to the end. If there were a couple plays that went [the other way], we don’t win,” Rademacher said. “But we made enough free throws and we handled the ball well enough in the fourth quarter. It was a good night for us. We played extremely hard defensively. We’d like to be a little bit smoother offensively, but Henryville also was playing hard defensively.”
Ellis paced the Braves with eight points, while Beatty and Casey each tallied seven. Nestor chipped in six points. Casey grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Kirchgessner had a solid floor game with five rebounds and a team-high five assists along with a strong defensive effort. Kirchgessner shared game-high steal honors with Casey with three.
“She gives us direction,” Rademacher said about Kirchgessner. “She does all the things that need to be done for us to win. She doesn’t care whether she scores. She does the all the other things that makes coaches happy.”
LaMotte scored a game-high 16 points. She made four of her seven 3-point attempts. Harrell did a great job giving the senior the ball, as she dished out six assists along with a game-high three steals.
“Chelsea and Jasmine really showed that the game meant a lot to them and they played hard,” Conrad said. “They’re competitors and that’s why they are great role models for that freshman class.”
Hendricks scored nine points and shared game-high rebounding honors with Harrell and Hollis. Each Hornet grabbed eight rebounds.
Both teams will return to the hardwood on Saturday. Henryville will travel to Orleans, while Borden will host Trinity Lutheran.