BRADFORD – Mississinawa Valley didn’t make a field goal the entire first half as the Bradford girls basketball team dominated Thursday’s Cross County Conference matchup 52-31.
Bradford displayed more energy on Thursday than it has at any point this season, coach Patrick McKee said, which helped propel the Lady Railroaders to the victory.
“They were pumped,” McKee said of the Railroaders. “That’s the most excited I’ve ever seen that team this entire year whether it’s the first day of practice, the first game, the first scrimmage, anything like that. I think that energy really helped us through tonight.”
Bradford never trailed in the game as Mackenzie Weldy made a pair of free throws and Chelsea Gill added a basket to make it a 4-0 advantage early. Then Mandi Bates drained a 3-pointer, and MV called its first timeout of the night down 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
“We’ve had energy before the game which we’ve been missing all year,” McKee said. “Our energy defensively carried over. I think that 7-0 run at the beginning of the game when they called that timeout, that energy really helped our team moving forward.”
After the timeout Bates drained another 3-pointer, and Kelly Moore also made one to increase the Bradford advantage to 13-0.
With the help of six fouls by Bradford in the first eight minutes, Mississinawa Valley got to the line often. But the Blackhawks only converted three of them in the first quarter – two from Sidnie Hunt with 2:07 remaining in the quarter to break their scoreless drought and one more by Kelsie Hunt – to make it 13-3 at the end of the opening period.
Bradford continued to control the game in the second quarter with Gill, Bates and Weldy leading the Railroader offense. The Bradford defense was even better than the offense as the Railroaders again limited MV to just three free throws in the period – two by Kelsie Hunt and one by Mikayla Stump – to make it 27-6 at halftime.
“We’ve been focusing on defense a lot lately,” McKee said. “We’re not the best shooting team. Everybody knows that. But we tell the kids it just takes heart to play defense and to play defense the way it’s supposed to be done, and we did that tonight.”
Mississinawa Valley didn’t make a single field goal in the first half.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” Blackhawk coach John Hershey said. “I don’t care if it was a free throw or a shot from out … we just couldn’t put it in. It was affecting us all the way around.
“I just told them keep shooting. Shots not going in, the only way to remedy that is to shoot more. You’ve got to even out the odds on the shooting.”
Mississinawa got its first field goal of the game in the third quarter as Kelsie Hunt made three field goals in the period.
Bradford added to its lead, though, with Gill leading the Railroaders with seven third quarter points to make it a 38-16 game.
“Chelsea Gill played a great game,” McKee said. “That kid, I’ll tell you what, I’ve told everybody this, if that kid was 5, 6 inches taller she’d be a phenomenal basketball player. She has so much heart, more heart than I’ve ever met in a kid.”
Kelsie Hunt continued to lead MV in the fourth quarter, and she got some help via 3-pointers from Stump and Olivia Murphy. Mississinawa outscored Bradford 15-14 in the period but lost the game 52-31.
“Couldn’t get it going tonight,” Hershey said. “It just felt like we were a little slow, didn’t move real good, a little sluggish.”
Weldy led Bradford with 14 points in Thursday’s CCC win. Also for the Railroaders, Gill scored 13 points, Bates scored 12, Hannah Fout scored six, Moore scored three, Brooke Fair scored two, and Bianca Keener scored two.
“Kelly Moore played well tonight,” McKee said. “Livi Hart played well. I had a couple kids off the bench. It was just a whole team atmosphere, a whole team win tonight.”
Kelsie Hunt led Mississinawa Valley with a game-high 18 points. Also for the Lady Hawks, Stump scored five points, Murphy scored three, Sidnie Hunt scored two, Madison Stachler scored two, and Kylie Willis scored one.
Bradford improved to 6-11 overall and 5-5 in the CCC with the win. Mississinawa fell to 3-14 overall and 2-8 in the CCC.
Bradford will play host to Newton on Saturday while Mississinawa Valley will play host to Franklin Monroe on Saturday.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.