UNION MILLS — After jumping ahead by 16 points in the first half, South Central’s girls basketball team appeared to be safe.
But in a Porter County Conference clash against county rival Westville, no lead was safe on Tuesday night.
In the second half, the Blackhawks mounted a gigantic rally, and even took a few five-point, fourth-quarter leads. The Satellites found a way to outlast their neighbors from the northwest, though, scoring on a layup with six seconds left to edge Westville 56-54 in a thriller in Union Mills.
“Coming out in the third quarter and not playing at our potential really was hard for us to be able to step it up,” South Central’s Kayla Budka said. “But coming back as a team and being able to pull together as all five players on the court was key.”
The Blackhawks led 51-46 with a little over three minutes remaining. But the Satellites (7-7, 3-1 Porter County Conference) regrouped and clawed back, tying it, 54-54, with 56 seconds to go on Amber Wolf’s layup.
After Westville (10-4, 3-2 PCC) didn’t score, South Central got the ball back and looked like it was going to hold for one shot. But it attacked a little earlier, and Lauren Anthony made a layup off Janelle Mitzner’s nice assist and was fouled with six seconds left, making it 56-54. Anthony missed the free throw after a timeout and the Blackhawks got the rebound, pushed the ball up court, but Ashley Wilkerson’s potential game-winning, 3-pointer from the right wing missed at the buzzer.
“I thought about calling a timeout there,” South Central coach Rick Budka said about his team’s last possession. “But I wanted them to learn on their own. In practice, we always do situational drills, where they have to think for themselves. So this is a learning process, so if it comes down to the end of the game, they can do that.”
Early on, after it was tied 4-4, the Satellites began to pull away. They reeled off a 13-7 run the rest of the first quarter, fueled by stalwart passing and stout half-court defense. That permitted South Central to lead 17-11 following the opening period.
The Satellites were ahead by as many as eight points in the first quarter, 15-7, after Wolf’s layup off Olivia Tolmen’s assist with 1:35 left in the period.
Only three Westville players scored in the first half. And arguably its best player, Mary Parkman, went 0-for-11 from the field before the break.
South Central held a commanding, 33-18 halftime advantage.
“We didn’t play like we should have in the first half,” Westville coach Mark Parkman said. “That’s not Westville basketball this year. Mary (Parkman) wasn’t feeling good, and she played like it tonight, which was unfortunate. If she has the game she normally has, we would have won this game. But I’m very proud of all the girls, though.”
The Blackhawks dictated play in the third and won that quarter 23-8. Wilkerson hit a 3-pointer with one second to go to knot it, 41-41, heading to the fourth. Mary Parkman and Wilkerson led the charge in the second stanza. Westville also got contributions from several players in that half.
“We beat them 23-8 in the third quarter,” Coach Parkman said. “That’s the potential we have and that’s what we typically do. So I told them, ‘Not to be disappointed, don’t hang your head.’”
The Satellites stormed back at the right time, however.
“We did a good job keeping our composure and coming back,” Coach Budka said. “And making sure that at the end of the night, when it comes down to the fourth quarter, it’s not about winning by 15 or 20 points, it’s about getting the ‘W.’”
The Satellites’ Tolmen tallied 16 points, and Kayla Budka scored 11. Anthony and Wolf added 10 points apiece.
Wilkerson guided Westville with 17 points, including four 3-pointers, while Mary Parkman had 13 points, all in the second half. Morgan Shreves finished with 11 points.
South Central’s junior varsity won 39-20. McKenzie Hudspeth led the Satellites with nine points, and Marissa Carr netted eight. The Blackhawks’ Peyton Rodgers notched eight points.
SOUTH CENTRAL 56, WESTVILLE 54
Parkman 4-20 5-6 13, Wilkerson 6-16 1-2 17, Shreves 5-7 1-2 11, Meyers 0-1 0-1 0, Weston 1-3 3-4 5, Pender 4-6 0-0 8. Totals 20-53 10-15 54.
SOUTH CENTRAL (56)
Budka 4-6 2-2 11, Smoker 1-4 0-0 2, Tolmen 7-16 2-2 16, Anthony 5-8 0-1 10, Kidwell 0-2 2-2 2, Mitzner 2-6 0-0 4, Wolf 5-9 0-0 10, Wildfong 0-4 1-2 1. Totals 24-55 7-9 56.
So. Central`17`16`8`15`— 56
3-point shooting — Westville 4- 20 (Parkman 0-7, Wilkerson 4-13), South Central 1-8 (Budka 1-2, Smoker 0-2, Tolmen 0-2, Wolf 0-1, Wildfong 0-1). Total fouls — Westville 9, South Central 14. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Westville 10, South Central 11. Records — Westville 10-4, 3-2 PCC, South Central 7-7, 3-1 PCC.