Orrville Red Riders

Orrville’s Carpenter outscores Knights as Red Riders roll

It was a rare night on Feb. 15 between longtime foes Orrville (18-3) and West Holmes (5-16). The young Lady Knights brought effort and toughness, but it was the Lady Riders who dominated on Senior Night as they rolled to the 66-28 victory.

As if it’s not tough enough for a young basketball team with a first-year head coach to scrap together a winning performance, to try to do it on the road against a senior-laden team directed by a member of the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame makes it near impossible.

The Knights have one senior starter on varsity, Kaylor Perone, and more than half of the roster is filled with freshmen and sophomores, which at times has made it a struggle for West Holmes to score against more experienced teams. Coming into this game, West Holmes had started to turn their season around by winning three of the previous four games, and their team defense had been a big reason in helping them compete all year. A bright spot for the Knights in this game was holding Orrville to shooting just 3-of-19 from behind the arc and forcing 12 turnovers.

Unfortunately for West Holmes, they had no answer for Orrville’s Mikaila Carpenter. Recent memory can’t recall the last time Orrville held a 30-point halftime lead against a West Holmes squad, and the Red Riders’ junior post had a heavy hand in the outcome as Carpenter personally outscored the Knights’ offense on her way to another double-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and one block.

The Lady Riders, coming fresh off a blow-out loss against Wooster, played aggressively from the opening tip and pressed the young Knights. Juniors A’Kerryia Hawkins and Shadra Hamsher were relentless in the Riders’ full-court press and snagged several steals, which resulted in Hamsher pouring in seven first-quarter points to go with Carpenter’s opening eight points as the hosts jumped out to a 21-8 advantage to end the quarter.

Carpenter poured in another nine points as she dominated the paint in the second quarter, and Orrville’s press wore down the Knights, who were held to only three points in the second stanza. By halftime, Orrville leading 41-11, the game was decided.

Despite the heavy deficit, the Knights didn’t quit, and they continued to show effort, hustle and poise even with Orrville’s unrelenting pressure on defense. Though they managed only five points in the third quarter, the Knights finished the game strong by scoring 12 points in the closing period while their defense held Orrville to 25 points in the second half.

Orrville head coach Mark Alberts said his squad received a little redemption after their  loss against Wooster. “This was a good way to get back on the right track. Our second season is coming up next week, and this was a good start in our preparation for next week. We didn’t have the effort we needed to have against Wooster, but tonight we did, especially in the first half. We pressured them defensively, which held them to just 11 points in the first half and allowed us to score in transition. Carpenter was a tough matchup. Between her post play and our defensive pressure, we were able to stick to our strategy for the entire game. We took the press off the second half and got a little stagnate on offense, but overall we are pleased with our total effort tonight.”

Alberts felt Hamsher kicked things up a notch to start the game. “Shadra gave tremendous energy tonight. We have her playing underneath in our zone because she rebounds so well. When she gets the ball and pushes it up the floor, her athleticism allows her to find her teammates in the open floor, and it is the reason why she leads our team in assists.”

West Holmes keyed on junior Mariah Goodard and held her to just two points, but Alberts praised Goodard’s unselfishness. “Mariah is an excellent shooter, and teams we face know it. She had a tough night from behind the arc, but when teams key on Mariah, it makes it difficult to stop Mikaila, and vice-versa. Tonight was Mikaila’s turn to lead. Mariah will bounce back.”

In addition to Carpenter’s big night, Hamsher stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block. Hawkins finished a solid effort with five points, five rebounds, five steals and two assists while senior Alexis Tillison rounded out a nice night for the red and white with five points, four rebounds and two assists.

Though Lindsy Snyder wasn’t happy with the end result, the first-year head coach for the Lady Knights understands the trials and tribulations that come with having a young team. “We’ve been working on a press breaker for the past few days, establishing a discipline of trusting our teammates and slowing things down to find a pace that we can play at. It is good for us to be in situations like tonight. Coming into the tournament, we are going to face teams that press and force turnovers, so I’d rather we turn the ball over here and learn from it than to do the same mistakes next Wednesday night.”

The Knights need to put this game behind them, and Snyder’s outlook remains positive. “Everyone is learning. We have to continually do a couple of things to make strides in a few specific areas every night. As each day passes and the season shortens, the couple of things we are working on becomes more valuable. Our younger kids came in and did the little things well at the end of the game tonight. It was good to see them learning and purposely trying to do the right things. At times we might fail, but I do see their effort is there, and that’s all I can ask.”

West Holmes junior Regan Wilcox led the way for the Lady Knights with eight points, followed by freshman Katie Sprang with six points and Paige Race with five points.

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