The Mark Twain girls basketball team couldn't stop Class 3 No. 5-ranked Clark County in a 71-54 home loss on Friday night.
The Mark Twain girls basketball team couldn't find a way to stop Clark County's Abby Brown on Friday night.
The Lady Indians 6-foot senior erupted for a career-high 24 points and shot a perfect 8-for-8 mark from the field in the first half to help the visitors pull away.
Clark County, ranked fifth in Class 3, built a 12-point halftime lead and maintained a double-digit advantage the entire second half to secure a 71-54 victory.
“(Brown) had a major size advantage down there on the block and she was there ready to play,” Clark County coach John Weaver said. “She's had a streak here where she's really been scoring the ball a lot. She came up really big for us tonight.”
Maggie Schutte knocked down a pair of threes in the opening quarter as the Lady Indians (17-1) took an 18-11 lead through the first eight minutes of play.
Five different Clark County players scored in the first period, and nine did on the night.
“Early in the game, we just let too many open looks go,” Mark Twain coach Alex Brandenburg said. “We lost our girl at times, and they had a couple threes in the first quarter and that made the difference from the start. From that moment on, we were clawing back, and Clark County is a really good team.”
McKenzie Lathrom willed the Lady Tigers (7-11) to stay within striking distance for much of the game. The senior guard led all scorers with 26 points, 16 of which came after halftime.
When Lathrom's shots weren't falling in the first quarter, she instead found ways to get teammates involved.
She finished with five assists.
“McKenzie did a great job distributing,” Brandenburg said. “When we came down the floor and set a screen for her, they had all eyes on her. I'm proud of the way she moved the ball, but also I'm proud of the way our girls moved without the ball. We had some girls making some nice cuts to the basket and getting open looks.”
On the receiving end of Lathrom's passes on several occasions was junior Paige Eddington, who netted eight of her 10 points in the first half.
“This week has been a good week for Paige,” Brandenburg said. “Tonight she was looking to attack, and she's finding a rhythm offensively for us. I like what I see out of her. She's growing up as a player and she's leading us here toward the home stretch.”
Clark County, meanwhile, continually fed the ball to Brown down low, which came as no surprise to the Lady Tigers. The Lady Indians strategy still proved a daunting task to stop.
Brown made five field goals in the second quarter put Clark County ahead 38-26 at halftime.
“(Brown) knows how to finish around the basket,” Brandenburg said. “We were just letting her catch the ball too close to the rim. We knew what they were going to do, but there were just some times on defense where we had mental lapses, and they made us pay.
“Teams that are top 10 in the state, that's what they do, and you almost have to put together a near-perfect game to put yourself in a spot to beat somebody like that.”
Lathrom scored nine points in the third quarter, but Clark County's Brown, Carissa Bevans and Aubry Boulware combined for 19 points in the period to give the Lady Indians a 57-40 advantage entering the fourth.
Bevans finished with 10 points for Clark County, as did Schutte. Boulware tacked on nine in the win.
Weaver mentioned it took a team effort to beat Mark Twain, especially when it came to keeping track of Lathrom on defense.
“Heck of a player,” Weaver said of the Lady Tigers senior. “We just tried to face guard her with our best defender, Drenda Hess, who's very long, very quick. And then we really tried to help on her and switch up defenses a little bit. Sometimes you feel like you do a really good job, and (Lathrom) still comes up with 26.”
Mackenzie Ogle scored eight points for Mark Twain, while Emma Ross provided six and Amber Ferry had four.
Brandenburg said he was encouraged by the fight from his team even after it fell behind.
“I'm proud of the way the girls fought,” the coach said. “It helps us to play a tough non-conference schedule because it prepares us. The rest of our schedule is conference, and we should be ready moving forward if we can play like this every night.”