Lapel girls down Liberty Christian

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ANDERSON — Lapel’s win Saturday at Liberty Christian will not be counted as the prettiest or cleanest game of the year for the Bulldogs. But you won’t hear coach John Willis complaining.

Seniors Mallory Willis and Samantha Kern scored five points each during a second and third quarter 15-0 run as a balanced Lapel offense overcame a rebounding disadvantage and a high turnover total to knock off the Lions 54-37 Saturday afternoon.

Although Lapel (17-4) never trailed, it struggled to get separation from Liberty Christian (12-8) until midway through the second quarter.

Leading 20-14, Kern got the decisive run started with a layup off a feed from Willis. Following a steal and layup from freshman Delany Peoples, Willis then buried a 3-point shot from the corner, and the Bulldogs were off and running.

A Peoples free throw capped the run early in the third quarter as the Bulldogs’ lead swelled to 21.

“The message the last few practices was to get better,” coach Willis said. “Sometimes we have a difficult time getting our motor started, but once we got a little more patient and move the basketball a little better, we were able to get some open looks.”

The Lions ran a box-and-one defense at the Bulldogs, with one player draped on star forward Bree Boles the entire game.

Lapel struggled to get Boles in a position to score, although she did finish the game with 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Despite a size advantage for the 6-foot-3 Boles, coach Willis said sometimes the trick defense causes problems for her teammates.

“That’s the second time that’s happened,” he said. “When they put somebody smaller on Bree, the kids think that’s a mismatch and they have to get her the ball.”

Kern, who finished with nine points, and Peoples, who matched Boles with 11, were able to score inside — a result, Willis said, of the improved patience as the game went along.

However, the problem for Lapel was turnovers. The Bulldogs turned the ball over 22 times.

“There’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ win,” coach Willis said. “It might be ugly, but we’ll take the win. We need to get better. They have a day off tomorrow; then we’ll tighten up a few things and we’ll get ready to go play Wapahani on Tuesday.”

Mallory Willis led the Bulldogs in scoring with 12 and in assists with five. Peoples and senior Taylor Anderson had three steals each, and Boles also blocked three shots.

In the junior varsity game, Lapel knocked off the Lions 24-21. Sophomore Paige Rich scored eight points, pulled down seven rebounds, handed out two assists and picked up five steals, leading the Bulldogs in each category.

Lapel travels to Wapahani, a potential sectional semifinal opponent, in its season finale Tuesday. The JV will tip at 6 p.m. with the varsity to follow at about 7:30 p.m.