Last Home Game for Seniors a Thriller
J. C. Tilton
The high school basketball season is winding down and the Dixie girls basketball team played their last home game against SWBL rival Brookville. The team celebrated senior night before the game, then the girls took the court for a battle royale. They wanted to close out their season in their new gym on a winning note, but this would be a difficult against a Blue Devil team that has been known for the success of their team year in and year out.
The season has taken it's toll on each team. Both have had to deal with injuries. Post player Amanda York is due to return before the state tournament for Dixie, but was unavailable on Thursday. Joy Maxel returned to the Blue Devils about mid season and is just now getting into game shape, but she made her 6 foot presence felt against the Grey Hounds. Brookville has lost another player for the season, but they are still potent. Earlier in the year I remarked to Coach Money that the victories I saw had Dunn scoring 20 or more and York hitting for 10. York was out - her height and points would not be available to counter Maxel and Dunn would not make her 20 against Brookville. So the Hounds would need to step up as a team and make up the difference.
The first quarter set the tone for the game. 7 of Brookville's 9 first quarter points came from Maxel with Jessi Mitrisin connecting for the other duce. Dixie's scoring was distributed, but mainly coming from the guards. Dixie opened with a zone and switched at mid quarter to man to man. They would alternate between a zone and man to man thru out the game while Brookville stayed with their man defense thru out. Dixie would be one point behind the Blue Devils as they entered the second quarter.
Megan Millikin hit a foul shot to tie the game early in the 2nd. But Brookville went on a mini run to get a 6 point lead in the next 2 and a half minutes. But Dixie woke up and closed the gap and once again were down by an Ace - 21 to 20 at the break. Dixie had outpaced Brookville in the turnover department in the first quarter, but settled down and in the second turnovers were fairly even.
In the third quarter Dixie would open in man to man, then switch to a zone. This was a good quarter for Sara Kelhoffer who set the pace for the Hounds with 5 hard earned points in this defensive struggle. On the other end of the court, Joy Maxel put the team on her shoulders and scored the bulk of Brookville's points. But the balance at the end of the quarter tipped ever so slightly to Dixie as Kelhoffer would score with about minute left to put Dixie up by one.
Both teams were playing vigorous, in your face defense, and the intensity began to take it's toll in fouls. Both teams had players who would get their 3rd, then 4th fouls in this quarter. And foul shots would be a factor in the end. Sophomore Maxel again led the way in the paint scoring the first 6 points of the quarter for Brookville. Seniors Jessi Dunn and Randi Salyer took command in the 4th. Each of them chipping in a bucket, but with a minute to go Brookville had a slim one point lead. This grew to 2 points when Jaime Mitrisin put in a free throw. Time was running out for the Greyhounds. They closed to within one, but the seconds were ticking away. Another foul sent a Blue Devil to the line with 22 seconds left. The front end of a one and one was missed and suddenly the Hounds were in business. They worked the ball around and Dunn found herself open for a shot a long step away from the 3 point line. She released and found the net with 10 seconds left in the game. Dixie applied full court pressure to the inbound and stifled Brookville's attempt to get a shot off and as the clock ticked down, Dixie closed out their last home game with a hard fought 36-34 victory.
Coach Money was asked about the victory, “We really practice the team concept. We're fairly healthy right now. Brookville's a good team, but I knew we could stick with them because the confidence we gained Tuesday, and Jessi hits the big three with 10 seconds to go. I'm really just proud of these girls and how they over come adversity. And they continue to improve. It's senior night and just wow - it's gotta be the biggest victory we've had in a couple of years. Hopefully, we just continue on Saturday”. Coach Money acknowledged that Maxel scored a game high 24 points, but that Brookville was limited to just one three point shot all night, “They shot 61% against us at their place. We put in the girls heads, we just cannot allow that to happen tonight”.
The perimeter defense of Dixie did a good job of keeping the Brookville wings in check. Randi Bargo did a good job defensively against Maxel - despite the height disparity. And point guard Sarah Kelhoffer stepped it up on offense - scoring 9 points. The Dixie locker room was jubilant after the game. The team seems to be finishing strong, hopefully this momentum will carry into the tournament.
Scoring for Dixie: Kelhoffer 9, Bargo 2, Salyer 7, Dunn 17, Millikin 1. Scoring for Brookville: Jaime Mitrisin 4, Jessi Mitrisin 2, Grady 2, Schrier 2, Maxel 24.