NEW PARIS —The National Trail Girls’ basketball team earned its first victory of the season on Thursday, Dec. 3, when the Blazers hosted and defeated Twin Valley South, 52-35.
Miranda Mize scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Payten Laird added 16 points and secured eight rebounds to lead the Blazers to the victory.
“I think the biggest thing was we shot the ball well,” head coach Troy Ferguson said afterward, adding, “And we played fairly well defensively.”
“We got Payten and Miranda both in double figures and if that happens for us to get two girls in double figures, we’re going to most likely see success,” Ferguson continued.
Trail doubled the Panthers up after the first period by gaining a 12-6 lead before scoring 19 points in the second quarter and stretching the lead to 18 at halftime. This left the Blazers leading 31-13.
The teams played evenly in the second half as each scored 10 points in the third frame and 12 in the fourth.
One key for the Blazers, according to Ferguson, was rebounding, an area he saw his team dominate in the game, winning the rebounding battle by a total of 49-33.
The Panthers also struggled with the Blazers’ defense, shooting just 24 percent for the game.
The Blazers attempted 29 free throws in the game as Laird and Mize were especially aggressive getting into the paint.
Freshman Savanna Abner also had a solid all-around game, scoring six points, dishing out five assist, creating three steals and securing four rebounds.
Twin Valley South head coach Jeff Case said this loss was a tough loss for his team. “They out-played us tonight and out-hustled us. We are going to have games like this, everyone does. But this was a game that we had circled that we needed to win,” he said.
Morgan Newhart scored 15 for the Panthers and Mylan Crews added seven.
The week started for the Blazers with a road loss to Newton. The Blazers fell 58-42.
“We played well for the most part,” Ferguson said of the game. “We just had a stretch where their pressure affected us and we got ourselves in a little hole and couldn’t get out of it.”
Newton used a big second and third quarter to extend the lead for the home team, after the first period ended with the hosts leading 9-8. It was 28-20 at Newton at the half and the lead expanded to 16 after three.
Evan Byrd led the Blazers with 12 points, while Jalynn Byrd added nine. Laird scored seven points while Abner was balanced again, scoring six, getting five rebounds and recording five assist. Mize led the team with 10 rebounds.
The week ended for the Blazers with a 36-28 road victory over Northeastern (Indiana) in a low scoring game on Saturday, Dec. 5. The Blazers used a 15-point fourth quarter to earn the victory after trailing after the first, second and third quarters.
It was 22-21 Northeastern heading into the final frame before the Blazers went on a 15-6 run in the quarter.
Mize led the Blazers in scoring and rebounding as she totaled 16 points and totaled nine rebounds.
The week was not as successful for the Panthers, who lost all three games played. On Monday, Nov. 30 the team traveled to Dixie where it fell 35-31.
“Our defense was solid,” Case said afterward. “When you hold a high school basketball team under 40 points, you should be in position to win the game. And we were.”
The team had its chances but went 2-10 from the free throw line in the game and shot just 25 percent from the field for the game.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, the team hosted Milton Union and lost 65-34 to the Bulldogs. The Panthers struggled from the field again, shooting just 22 percent.
“This is one of those games on our schedule that we have to file away and remember what to do correctly against a bigger team later in the season or in the tournament,” Case said. “This is all part of the learning and progression of building the program.”
The Blazers are now 2-3 and 1-2 in the Cross County Conference. They play at Brookville on Tuesday, Dec. 8, and at Arcanum on Thursday, Dec. 10.
The Panthers, now 1-5 on the season hosted Jefferson on Monday, Dec. 7, before hosting Tri-County North on Thursday, Dec. 10 and Stivers on Monday, Dec. 14.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062, or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.