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GIRLS BB: Tri-County hands No. 1 Caston first loss

Jan. 12—FULTON — Possible sectional opponents Caston and Tri-County met Thursday night one night before Caston's senior night.

The Cavaliers jumped on the No. 1-ranked Comets early and held on for a 47-42 victory in a matchup of two of the top teams in the upcoming Class A South Newton Sectional.

It was the first loss of the season for the Comets (17-1). The Cavaliers (14-6) are the defending sectional champions.

Caston coach Josh Douglass said it was his team's slow start that led to the loss. Tri-County jumped out to a 22-8 lead after one quarter.

"The first quarter we didn't guard anybody. When you don't guard anybody they hit shots," Douglass said. "I don't know how many 3s they hit in the first quarter but you give up 22 in the first and you give up 25 the rest of the game. That game was won in the first quarter."

The Cavaliers shot 5 of 8 from the 3-point line in the first quarter.

Three-point shooting was a difference in the game. The Cavs shot 7 of 18 for the game (39%) to the Comets' 1 of 14 (7%).

That discrepancy helped lead to the Cavs outrebounding the Comets 38-20. The Comets forced 20 turnovers but committed 12 themselves. The Cavs shot just 6 of 15 from the foul line (40%) to the Comets' 11 of 16 (69%).

The Cavs led by as many as 16 at three different points in the first half before the Comets got to within 28-19 at halftime.

The Comets never got any closer than seven in the third and trailed 39-27 after three.

The Comets picked up their defensive intensity in the fourth and forced nine turnovers. But they didn't convert enough on the offensive end to get any closer than five points.

Isabel Scales scored on an assist by Macee Hinderlider to make it a 39-34 game with 3:30 remaining. But Grace Luck answered with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to eight with 3:00 left.

Alexa Finke scored in the paint on an assist by Madi Douglass to bring Caston to within 42-36. But Hannah Arvin scored on a drive and finished with her left hand and drew contact to push the lead to eight with 2:03 left. She missed the free throw but Tri-County rebounded and Lyzzy Bahler hit two free throws to push the lead to 46-36 with 1:40 left and the Cavs were able to hold on from there.

The Cavaliers took advantage of North White's upset of Caston to win last year's sectional title. They lost to eventual state runner-up Bethany Christian 38-30 in a regional game.

The Cavs have a lot back but got a bad break when they lost senior Johnetta Whitmire, who was their second leading scorer at 9 ppg last season, to a torn ACL suffered during volleyball. But the Cavs have been playing their best basketball of late. They beat Class 4A Mount Vernon (Fortville) at the Twin Lakes Tournament, played McCutcheon tough there and have played Twin Lakes competitively twice this year.

"I told the girls before we took the court, I said, 'they're here to beat you, they're going to bring it and they did,'" coach Douglass said. "We did not match the intensity to start the game. Then later on we picked it up. We got down by 16 and found a way to get back. We had it down to five and 44 [Luck] hit a big 3 in the corner to push it back to eight and we still fought. Hat's off to Tri-County. They played extremely well, shot the ball extremely well for awhile. Back to the drawing board."

Zarse had nine points and 11 rebounds for the Cavs. Luck scored nine on 3 of 9 shooting from 3. Bahler had eight points. Arvin had seven points and 10 boards. Evalynn Ross added five points, Allista Taulman had four, Jasmine Durando had three and Madie Spencer chipped in two.

Addison Zimpleman had 19 points and six rebounds for the Comets. Scales had 14 points, six boards and nine steals. Finke added four points, Hinderlider had three and Douglass chipped in two.

The Comets' 17-game win streak and undefeated season have gone by the wayside as their schedule toughens up before the tournament. They started 19-0 last year before finishing 20-3.

Coach Douglass said an undefeated season wasn't one of the main goals this year. Of course a sectional championship is one of the main goals.

"The undefeated season wasn't anything part of it," he said. "We were just showing up, playing each game and trying to be ready to play. Like I said, you've got to be ready to play at the start of the game and I felt like we were not tonight and that's on me. I've got to figure out a way to get us ready to play."

Caston's senior night game with Bethany Christian Friday was postponed due to travel conditions for BC.