McDowell head coach Jennifer Kinninger couldn’t be with her team Wednesday night when it hosted the Mitchell Mountaineers, but there’s no question the Lady Titans made their coach proud from afar.
The Lady Titans (2-1 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 8-5 overall) avenged an earlier road loss with a convincing 57-42 win over Mitchell (8-6). Kinninger missed the game because of a death in the family, and assistant Laura Boles took over the reins.
The team responded with one of its most complete performances of the season.
“I’m so proud of them,” said Boles. “I told them tonight that she (Kinninger) loves them and she wanted to be here. I told them this is for her, and let’s call her after this game and tell her we got the win.”
The Lady Titans got the win thanks in large part to their dominant post play. McDowell exploited its size advantage throughout the game, with posts Naliyah Boyce and Makenna Parkins working together to get a ton of close looks at the basket.
Boyce scored a team-high 14 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and blocked two shots. Parkins added 12 points and handed out a team-high six assists, with five of them coming on picture-perfect, high-low dump-downs to Boyce on the low blocks. The duo combined to shoot 11-of-18 from the field.
Guard Dezi Williams tossed in 11 to go with nine boards and five steals, and Makaylah Chandler (6 rebounds, 3 assists) added 10 points.
“We had some people step up,” said Boles. “Naliyah pulled down some big boards, and Silese (Carson, 7 points) stepped in and did some good things for us. We looked at the middle and tried to hit the middle with the backside flash, and we just tried to work the ball and not play helter-skelter. We talked about being poised and making the easy play and not trying to be the big hero.”
There wasn’t much need for late-stage heroics. The Lady Titans trailed for only 15 seconds early in the first quarter, and built a second-half lead that reached as many as 19 points.
Mitchell closed to within nine in the waning moments, but the Lady Titans made enough free throws – a modest but effective 12-of-19 in the final quarter – to keep the Mountaineers at arm’s length.
Boyce and Parkins combined to go 5-for-5 from the floor, scoring 10 points in a 13-7 opening period that gave McDowell the lead for good. The Lady Titans led 27-16 at the half.
They stretched the lead to 41-22 on Williams’ back-door layup off a Candace Cooper assist with 1:45 to go in the third quarter, before settling for a 41-27 edge after three.
Mitchell’s Paige Johnson scored 18 points to lead all scorers. Hannah McMahan added 12 for the Mountaineers, coached by former longtime McDowell assistant Zack McCartha.
But Mitchell never got comfortable offensively and shot just 27 percent (15-of-56). Meanwhile, McDowell hit for a solid 45 percent (19-42) and out-rebounded the visitors 40-22.
The Lady Titans return to Northwestern 3A/4A Conference play tonight on the road at Alexander Central (6 p.m.).
Mitchell (42) Marley Cloer 1-8 1-4 4, Hannah McMahan 4-14 3-7 12, Shea Laws 1-6 0-0 2, Paige Johnson 7-13 1-3 18, April Huskins 0-2 0-0 0, Jill Pittman 2-8 2-3 6, Danica Byrd 0-2 0-0 0, Maddie Biddix 0-1 0-0 0, Emilee Slagle 0-1 0-0 0, Chandra Jenkins 0-2 0-2 0. Totals: 15-56 7-19 42.
McDowell (57) Makaylah Chandler 1-5 8-11 10, Makenna Parkins 5-7 2-2 12, Naliyah Boyce 6-10 2-6 14, Zoe Miller 1-5 0-0 3, Dezi Williams 3-7 4-6 11, Candace Cooper 0-2 0-0 0, Alana Stephenson 0-0 0-0 0, Silese Carson 3-5 0-0 7, Daisy Rice 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 19-42 16-25 57.
Mitchell 07 09 11 15 – 42
McDowell 13 14 14 16 – 57
Rebounds: Mitchell (22) McDowell (40) Rebound leaders: Mitchell (Laws, Johnson, Pitman 4) McDowell (Boyce 15, Williams 9) 3-point goals: Mitchell (5-24) McDowell (3-10) Mitchell (Cloer 1-6, McMahan 1-5, Laws 0-3, Johnson 3-6, Pittman, Slagle 0-1, Byrd 0-2) McDowell (Williams, Miller, Carson 1-3, Cooper 0-1) McDowell assist leaders: (Parkins 6) McDowell steals leaders: (Williams 5) McDowell blocked shot leaders: (Boyce 2) Turnovers: Mitchell (20) McDowell (26) Fouled out: Mitchell (Huskins 1:01—fourth)