You can smother Ava Kitchin under the basket, or you can neutralize McKaylie Capps, Ellie Corwin and their Redmond teammates outside the key. But the Mountain View girls basketball team could not do it all on Tuesday night as the Panthers earned their first Intermountain Conference victory of the season, 56-40.
Kitchin scored nine of the Panthers’ first 11 points of the game and racked up 17 points in the first 12 minutes of play at Mountain View High. Possession after possession, Kitchin grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it right back in the basket before Mountain View (0-1 IMC, 6-6 overall) had a chance to take it away from her. By halftime, the Panthers (1-1, 5-7) led 30-23.
“We’ve been working with her, keeping the ball high and going right back up, and she did a great job with that,” Redmond coach Angela Capps said.
At halftime, the Cougars switched from man-to-man to zone defense in the hopes of slowing down Kitchin. In one sense, they succeeded: Kitchin made just one field goal in the second half and spent some time on the bench in the third quarter after being called for three fouls in quick succession.
“We really wanted to play man to start, because we thought we could match up better that way,” Mountain View coach Steve Riper explained. “We’re young, and we’re still working on blocking out consistently in the zone. But she kind of had her way. She’s a good offensive player down in the post. She does a great job of posting up, and she has good footwork. She killed us in the first half.”
But the change in defense just left more room for Capps, who had scored nine points in the first half and scored nine more in the second — all from behind the 3-point line. Brianna Heikkila also hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and Corwin scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half. When Kitchin got in foul trouble, Corwin also picked up the task of grabbing rebounds under the basket.
“When teams close in on Ava, then our shooters can go off from the outside,” Angela Capps said. “I think (the players) responded really well. We’ve been trying to progress our bench players, and the kids that got minutes off the bench were a huge help for us. When they took Ava away from the inside, they had some nice little short passes and outside shots.”
“The zone helped us in the second half, but then we gave up other things,” Riper said. “We gave up threes from the outside. McKaylie Capps is a great shooter, and we let her get free a few times. Their defense made it tough for us to score, and you have to give them credit.”
Bailey Dickerson led Mountain View with 15 points; Kailynn Bowles scored seven, and Liliana Overcash hit two 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer in the first quarter.
The Cougars trailed by six points heading into the fourth quarter, but Mountain View could not cut further into the Redmond lead as the Cougs struggled to maintain possession and scored just three points in the fourth quarter. Still, Riper said he reminded the young squad — Bowles, Dickerson, Overcash and Jillian Sisson, who all saw playing time in the game, are freshmen and sophomores — that they have plenty of opportunities to redeem themselves.
“Like I told the kids, we’re tied with Bend. We’re tied with what people consider the top team in the league,” Riper said, referring to Bend’s 50-47 loss to Ridgeview on Friday. “The season’s not over, and the league’s not over. We’ve got 11 more (games) to go.”
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