GREENFIELD — After a tough loss to conference rival Pendleton Heights on Friday night, Greenfield-Central girls basketball coach Doug Laker wondered how his team would react going forward.
Before the ball was even tipped in Tuesday night’s 50-48 victory over Warren Central, he had his answer.
“Every game day at about 4:15 (p.m.), I go over the team we’re going to play that night,” Laker said. “And when I walked out onto the court today, the seniors were leading their own walk through of both our sets and (Warren’s). That was all I needed to see right there.”
The game itself went well for the Class 4A No. 13 Cougars, as a wild back-and-forth game ended on Iowa State recruit Maddie Wise’s shot through two defenders that hit nothing but net as time expired. Wise would finish the game with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
At the beginning of the game, the Warriors looked to press the Cougars, but junior guard Brittany Wheeler broke free early to score an uncontested layup. After that, the press went away and the Cougars operated in their normal offense.
“We’ve faced a lot of press this year,” Laker said. “But the way to stop it is to beat it early and press yourself.”
As has become routine, the Cougars used their ball movement and Wise’s premier ball skills to force their opponent to foul, and they were in the bonus with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. This allowed the Cougars to keep the game close in the second quarter. They trailed by five points at halftime.
While Wise led the team back from a first-half deficit by scoring 10 consecutive points, it was freshman guard Kyrstin Bond, who sparked the Cougars coming out of halftime. Bond scored the first six points of the third quarter for the Cougars. Bond would finish with nine points and five rebounds.
“Bond has got ice in her veins,” Laker said. “She was finding the open spot in (Warren’s) zone and making them pay. It’s hard for me to remember sometimes that she’s only a freshman.”
The Cougars headed into the fourth quarter still down three points, but Wise took over. On the first two possessions of the quarter, she scored a traditional three-point play and a 3-point jumper to give the Cougars a lead they would not relinquish.
Warren Central’s sophomore guard Shaila Beeler drained a pull-up 3-pointer with six seconds remaining to tie the game at 48, but Wise would steal the spotlight with her game winner.
Taking the inbound and dribbling the full length of the court, Wise got off her shot with time to spare despite being draped by two Warrior defenders.
The Cougars improved to 3-2 on the season with the victory and will face Class 4A No. 8 Pike at the Jeffersonville Holiday Tournament on Saturday at noon.