Mt Carmel Register
MOUNT CARMEL -- A new year, a new KK White.
Like many others, the Wabash Valley College sophomore's looking for a fresh start in 2020. And in that regard, so far so good.
"I just figured New Year, new me, just try to be better as a person and a teammate," White said. "Coach has this thing where we have to fight for our role so that's what I've been doing lately. Just trying to fight for my role and get better."
Out of the gate her Lady Warriors (12-2) seemed amped up defensively and as they traditionally do, allowed their defensive pressure to convert into easy looks in transition.
They closed the quarter on a scorching run, scoring 10 points in the final minute following a slew of steals to take a commanding 28-10 lead.
Impressively, they shot an astonishing 76.5 percent from the field in the first quarter without making a single 3-pointer.
"I think that's when we're at our best," Wabash Valley College Coach Lacey Shalenko spoke of her team's play in the first quarter. "We have to buy into the press, I thought we did that tonight. Our rotations were correct, then just getting out and getting easy shots."
Lincoln Trail started to find a little rhythm against WVC's defense in the second after a pair of buckets and trailed just 33-16, but the Lady Warriors started to clamp down and closed the half on a 16-4 run. White scored seven of the 16 points through the course of the run before picking up her second foul with 1:20 remaining in the frame. They led 49-23 at halftime.
Both teams stayed relatively steady in the third, though Lincoln Trail outscored the Lady Warriors 20-14 in the frame to trail 63-43 heading into the final quarter.
After that however, it was all Lady Warriors.
"We started getting sloppy with things defensively in our press and things like that, kind of getting away from what we normally do offensively," Shalenko spoke of the third quarter. "Yeah, they got back within about 20 and we just came out in the fourth quarter and turned it back on."
Though their defense started to show some lapses in the third, it significantly tightened up. To couple with that, the Lady Warriors were making shots, which makes all things look better.
They began the fourth on a 16-0 run, highlighted by sophomore guard Jordan Aikens scoring nine points on a few treys. From then on, the rout was on.
"When we stick to what we know, run our plays, run our sets, it's pretty much unstoppable in my opinion," WVC sophomore guard Keya Patton spoke of the fourth quarter. "When we go away and take unusual shots, force threes, it's just bad."
Patton ended as Wabash Valley's leading scorer with 22 points, followed by White's 19 points and 15 points provided by freshman forward Jazmyn Turner. Aikens also scored in double-figures for the second straight games, this time scoring 12 points. Lincoln Trail was led by SyAnn Holmes, who scored 18 points.
Since returning to the starting rotation on Monday, White's averaged 18.5 points per game. With her in the fold as a go to scoring option, she can relieve some of the scoring burden off of Patton and make the Lady Warriors a major threat down the stretch.
The great crowd on hand came to Patton's delight, as well as her teammates. Patton and Shalenko echoed their desire for more turnouts such as Wednesday night's, as it can help prepare them for a run to Nationals -- and even prepare them for the atmosphere down there, if they aspire to those heights in yet another year.
"We need crowds like that to prepare us for Nationals, get us ready. It's next level, that's part of the next step, getting ready for people cheering for us or against us. That's huge."
Shalenko offered an update to injured sophomore Bre Beck in her postgame interview, saying Beck is scheduled to see a doctor next week, which will give them a better idea as to a return date. They're optimistic they can get her back into the fold soon after the appointment.
The Lady Warriors, who are likely to see a slight raise in next week's NJCAA Division I Women's National poll, will wrap up their week on Saturday at SWIC. Saturday's contest will tip-off at 1 p.m
"I don't underestimate anybody, but I think if we go in there and do what we're capable of defensively and get out in transition, putting pressure on people to guard us, I think we can take care of them."
WVC -- 28 21 14 21 -- 84
LTC -- 10 13 20 15 -- 58
Lady Warrior scorers: Patton 8 3 22, White 9 0 19, Turner 7 1 15, Aikens 4 0 12, Pruitt 4 0 8, Gibson 1 0 3, Hunt 1 0 3, Moore 1 0 2.