UNION MILLS — It didn't take long for South Central to assert itself defensively Tuesday night.
The rest of the game fell into place for the undefeated Satellites in a girls basketball county matchup against New Prairie.
Using a stifling 1-3-1, half-court trap defense, South Central built a double-digit cushion with just over two minutes left in the opening quarter. Offensively, Amber Wolf was the primary catalyst, earning 16 of her game- and season-high 24 points in the first period.
Those two factors allowed the Satellites to seize control early and they cruised from there in a 69-31 drubbing of the visiting Cougars.
“One thing coach always says is, 'We want to be the aggressor on the defensive end,” Wolf said. “We're not really on defense there, we're on offense. We need to control how they play.' We definitely did. We forced a lot of turnovers.”
Early on, Wolf and the suffocating trap defense allowed South Central (4-0) to take command. Wolf was scoring at a torrid pace, tallying 14 of her team's first 19 points in the first seven-and-a-half minutes. That aided the Satellites’ 14-5 lead midway through the first and double-digit advantage with 1:22 remaining in the opening period, 19-9. The margin never dropped below 10 the rest of the game, as S.C. never looked back. It went ahead 39-18 at the break.
In total, South Central's defense forced a whopping 29 turnovers.
“We had a really good practice Monday to get ready for this,” Satellites coach Wes Bucher said. “We had a long film session talking about our 1-3-1 and the adjustments we needed to make. We did a much better job of adjusting and staying in passing angles tonight and making everything a thought. Nothing was a natural pass. It made it very difficult."
Not only did S.C. force countless turnovers, it translated a number of them into easy baskets. And the Cougars also had shooting woes. That helped it push the lead to as much as 24 in the third.
“They're a good team, hats off to them,” New Prairie coach Todd Dermody said. “They took it to us in every way possible in this game. We turned the ball over. We gave into the pressure.”
In addition to the Satellites' stout defense, Wolf's offensive prowess at the outset was key.
“She's a spark,” Bucher said. “She's somebody who brings it every day in practice. The team follows her and rightfully so.”
Wolf was especially proud of her first quarter, when she seemingly couldn't be stopped. She went 7-for-8 shooting and drilled a 3-pointer in the opening period.
“That was amazing for me,” Wolf said. “I've kind of been on a low the first few games. I'm more of a pass-first player kind of, but I'm definitely a player on our team who has to make shots for people. So being able to get 24 points tonight was pretty cool for me. And having Delanie (Gale) step up and help me out with her assists was amazing.”
Besides Wolf, it was a balanced S.C. scoring attack.
Faith Biggs finished with 11 points, while freshman Olivia Marks and sophomore Abbie Tomblin both scored 10. Wolf grabbed 12 rebounds and had five assists, and Biggs tallied seven boards and four steals. Gale added four rebounds and four assists, while Marks recorded four boards and a pair of blocks.
“It is big,” Bucher said of four players recording double figures. “To see it from a freshman and a sophomore. And then, we've got two seniors who came up big for us. It's nice. Olivia Marks had a big game for us tonight. We've got a good group. All 12, all 12 can play.”
South Central was playing without Lexy Wade, who Bucher said has an ankle injury. He said he expects her to play when the Satellites visit Chesterton on Friday night.
Maddie McSurley and freshman Eva Dodds guided New Prairie with eight points apiece, and McSurley corralled 16 rebounds and added two steals. Jordan Winters chipped in six points.
“I was really proud of Maddie,” Dermody said. “She keeps doing a good job for us every night. Jordan Winters did a good job on the offensive boards and playing post defense tonight. She had some blocks.”
The Cougars cut into the deficit by playing somewhat solid for a decent stretch of the third. That permitted them to pull within 17 halfway through the period, 43-26. The visitors couldn't sustain the momentum, though, despite playing hard. S.C. responded with a 7-0 run to close the quarter to go ahead 50-26 heading to the fourth.
South Central played several reserves in the last period and all but two of the 11 players who saw action scored.
The Satellites won the junior varsity contest, 45-9. S.C.'s Lillian Tolmen recorded 16 points, and Holly Noveroske had 11 points.
South Central 69, New Prairie 31
Four S.C. players scored in double figures, led by Amber Wolf’s 24 points.