By Jeremy Izzio
SILVER CREEK - The Silver Creek Black Knights (8-2, 4-2) jumped out to an 18-4 lead after the first quarter in front of a packed crowd Thursday Jan. 23, and in the end, claimed a 57-41 victory over the Maple Grove Lady Red Dragons (4-7, 2-3) in a CCAA West I girls high school basketball matchup.
Photos by Lisa Monacelli
Silver Creek’s Kalee Dexter (20) puts up a shot during Thursday’s CCAA West I girls high school basketball game against Maple Grove.
The near-capacity crowd was decked out in pink for Silver Creek's annual Pink the Gym basketball game in support of Isabella Crowell, a 20-month-old girl who has been diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer.
After losing last year's Pink the Gym contest, and later being knocked out of the playoffs by the Lady Red Dragons, Thursday's victory was more than just another division win for the Black Knights.
"We started off by playing the best quarter of basketball we've played all season," Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice said. "We had six different girls score in the first quarter. We played great team basketball. And then in the second quarter, we struggled a little bit."
Taking a 14-point lead into the second quarter, the Black Knights seemed in total control of the contest until Maple Grove got hot from behind the arc.
The Lady Red Dragons hit three 3-pointers and added another field goal to cut the margin, 22-15, midway through the second quarter. Unfortunately for Maple Grove, that seven-point deficit would be as close as it would come the rest of the game.
The Black Knights had a pair of costly fouls at the end of the first half and seemed to be letting the Lady Red Dragons back into the game until jayvee call-up Sarah Adams hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the half to give Silver Creek the momentum, and a 29-18 lead, going into halftime.
In the second half, it was the Jordan Brooks show as Silver Creek's star center took over in the paint.
Facing a relentless double team the whole game, Brooks struggled to get going in the first half. Maple Grove was able to limit Brooks to only four points in the first quarter, and slowed her down in the second, before Brooks was able to take over the rest of the game.
"Mary (Bartkowski) does a great job," Rice said of Maple Grove's head coach. "We played them in the playoffs last year and they packed it down low in the post and beat us. This year we have some outside shooters, which helps when teams don't let us get the ball down low."
The second half was a different story as Brooks controlled the offensive glass and continually used her height advantage to pull down offensive rebounds and score put-back baskets.
Brooks led the Black Knights to a 44-32 lead going into the fourth quarter where she scored eight of her team's 13 points to help claim the victory.
"Jordan only had four points in the first quarter, but had very strong second, third and fourth quarters," Rice said. "Every time she went up for a shot, she had three girls boxing her out. In some cases, she struggled to find the right spot on the glass, but her work ethic in the second half paid off in the end."
"The plan was to double-team Jordan any time she was in the post," Bartkowski said. "We wanted to have Amie (Adams) behind her and someone in front of her at all times down low. If she left the paint, we left Amie inside and it worked. But the other players on their team were on fire in the first quarter.
"We tried to stick to the game plan," Bartkowski added. "Brooks is tough. Jordan is tall, she's strong and she gets a lot of offensive rebounds because of that. We did our best against her. We broke down a few times and she got the ball up and in as a result."
Brooks finished with 28 points, 24 rebounds and four blocks. Silver Creek point guard Jade Lewis scored nine points to go with nine assists and four steals, while Adams added five points and five rebounds in the win.
Emily Swanson led the Lady Red Dragons with 17 points. Teammate Alison Winchester scored nine points, all from behind the 3-point line, and Ellie Lockwood had seven points in the loss.
"I told my girls at the end of the game that I was proud of the way they played," Bartkowski said. "I thought they played well, but they can play better if they cut down on the parts of the game that they broke down on."
Silver Creek's next game is Saturday on the road against division opponent Frewsburg in what should prove to be a tough contest for the Black Knights.
NOTES: Going into Thursday's game, the school had raised $3,800 for the family of Isabella Crowell. That total did not include the proceeds from the Pink the Gym game At halftime, 35 people, including Silver Creek Central School faculty and staff, had their heads shaved for charity in support of Crowell.