By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor
Shelby had plenty to take away from Friday night’s basketball season opener.
Predominantly, the ball, itself.
The Lady Whippets turned their pressure defense loose against a youthful Plymouth squad and converted a bevy of Lady Big Red turnovers into points, bursting out of the gate and pulling away in a convincing 75-25 non-conference victory in Shelby.
Eight of the nine Shelby players recorded at least two steals, as the hosts piled up 30, overall, on the night, including 11 steals in an opening quarter that saw the Lady Whippets (1-0) seize control of the contest, outscoring Plymouth, 22-4.
Shelby forced the Lady Big Red (0-1) into 43 turnovers, while yielding just nine field goals on only 36 attempts.
Conversely, the Lady Whippets used a plus-25 turnover advantage (43-18) to generate 25 more shot attempts than Plymouth. Shelby cashed in on 28-of-61 shots from the field, many of which came off of conversions following turnover and run-out situations.
Kennadie Goth and Jackie Garrett each scored 15 points to top all scorers for SHS. CeCe King added 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots, while three more players nearly reached double-digits offensively for the Lady Whippets.
Bailey Walter added nine points and seven boards, while Raven Hill (eight points, six steals) and Maddi Fidler (eight points, six rebounds, three steals) also had key contributions.
Freshman Emily Blanton made her varsity debut for Plymouth and led the Lady Big Red in scoring with 14 points. She hit 3-of-7 three-point shots, on a night in which the Lady Big Red, otherwise, went 0-for-10 from behind the arc.
Shelby bolted out to an 11-0 lead in the first few minutes of the first quarter. Plymouth lost the basketball six times in less than three minutes, nine times in nearly five minutes, 11 times in almost six minutes and 17 times in a rocky first quarter, in which the Lady Whippets made more field goals (nine) than the Lady Big Red attempted (five).
Plymouth misfired on 13 of their first 14 shots on the night, trailing, 26-4, in the early stages of the second quarter. Blanton nailed a pair of threes during a mini 7-2 surge that boosted Plymouth into double figures and back within 17 (28-11).
But yet another steal by Goth and ensuing three-point play took the lead up to 20 and ignited a closing 7-0 run for a 35-11 lead at the half.
Garrett, who needed just 20 seconds of the third quarter to produce another steal and score, tallied eight points in the period to help expand the margin to 36 (53-17) after three.
Shelby outscored Plymouth, 20-3, over the final six minutes of the game to seal the win.
“I have a young team, but we make no excuses,” said Plymouth Head Coach Scott Speicher. “We did not handle their pressure well at all. Fundamentally, we want to be a sound team, but we struggled tonight.
“We knew Shelby was extremely solid coming in,” he continued. “Right now, we can’t replicate in practice what they bring to the floor defensively. We’ll keep working at it, and we’ll get better.”
Addyson Horne chipped in with five points, while Kendall Sanders (two points) snagged seven rebounds.
The Lady Whippets also outscored Plymouth, 17-4, from the foul line, attempting 31 free throws, compared to just nine by Plymouth.