By ROGER THOMAS
---- — BUSSEY – Shelby Graves scored 15 points to lead the Davis County Mustangs to a 43-36 non-conference girls basketball win over Twin Cedars Monday night in Bussey. Those 15 points made Graves the all-time scoring leader for the Davis County girls basketball program.
The Mustangs had two other players in double figures. Kate Birchmier and Mallory Wells, playing to take up the slack for the injured Rylee Eakins, each recorded a double-double. Birchmier had 11 points and 15 rebounds while Wells added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Birchmier got off to a quick start with six points and four rebounds in the opening quarter. Graves followed the opening basket by Birchmier with her second steal of the night, going coast-to-coast for a score and a 4-0 Davis County lead.
Brittney Roby's second basket gave the Sabers a 6-4 lead near the mid-point of the first stanza. Back-to-back baskets by Graves and Birchmier gave the lead back to the Mustangs.
Allie Utterback scored for a 9-8 Twin Cedars lead before Birchmier and Graves again had back-to-back scores to allow Davis County to lead 12-11 at the end of one.
Early in the game, the youth of the Sabers showed. Twin Cedars turned the ball over seven times against the Davis County press.
“Everybody is having to learn a new system and it’s harder on the freshmen to learn on the fly,” said Twin Cedars coach Mike Strasko. “The ball handling and boxing out will improve as our younger players become more aggressive.”
After a competitive opening quarter, the two teams played another even period in the second, which was almost devoid of scoring. Graves and Wells had baskets for the Davis County scoring while two free throws by Elizabeth Rowley and a Roby basket accounted for the Twin Cedars' scoring. Davis County led 16-15 at the break.
“We just didn't shoot well,” said Davis County coach Dave Mason. “We had a bunch of nearly point-blank shots that didn’t go in. We’ll take those shots any time.”
A big third quarter gave the Mustangs a sizable lead that held up for the win. Davis County closed out the quarter with a 13-0 run to lead 37-22.
Graves reached double figures with the first basket of the final half.
“Coach told me that I don’t really have to change my game because we are playing without Rylee,” said Graves. “I’m going to look to get to the foul line by attacking the basket.”
Graves had seven points, three steals, and five assists as she led the Mustangs to the big lead.
Roby’s five early points kept Twin Cedars close at 24-22, but Davis County used a number of fast breaks to run outs to get the big lead.
“We saw that we could release a guard against their defense,” said Mason. “We spread our offense a little to put us in better position to do that.”
Wells also reached double figures in the run. Her rebound basket ended the run and the third quarter scoring.
Birchmier reached double figures early in the fourth to keep the Davis County’s lead at 15, 39-24, two minutes into the final quarter.
“I’m confident in my ability to score and rebound in the post, so maybe a little more but not too much change while Rylee is out,” said Birchmier. “I do have to get deep on our press to protect the basket.”
Graves sat out the final minutes after sustaining a blow to the head while going for a loose ball. Even though the game was never really in doubt, her absence let Roby dominate the play over the final minutes.
Roby had 12 of her game-high 24 points in the final five minutes of play.
“We always had two girls around her to try and control her,” said Mason.
The Mustangs (3-1) will host Centerville in South Central Conference play on Friday night. Twin Cedars is now 1-2 after the loss and returned to the floor at Seymour Tuesday before ending the week with a road test at Moulton-Udell.
Davis County 43, Twin Cedars 36
DC 12 4 21 6 – 43
TC 11 4 7 14 – 36
Davis County (43) – Blair Bodkins 1, Shelby Graves 15, Ally McClure 4, Mallory Wells 12, Kate Birchmier 11. Totals 20-60 3-12 43. 3-point goals – 0-6. Fouled out – none. Rebounds – 41 (Birchmier 15, Wells 11). Assists – 12 (Graves 7). Steals – 14 (Graves 7). Blocks – 2 (Graves, McClure). Total fouls – 14. Turnovers – 20.
Twin Cedars (36). Totals 13-43 9-14 36. 3-point goals – 1-5 (Roby). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – 29 (Roby 13). Assists – 5 (Emily McClain 2). Steals – 5 (Roby 3). Blocks – 1 (Allie Utterback). Total fouls – 11. Turnovers – 23.