Tigers make seventh-place game count

DANVILLE — It wasn't exactly a no-win situation.

Before Thursday's seventh-place game in the Vermilion County tournament at Palmer Arena, Westville girls' basketball coach Mike Chandler had "mixed emotions" about playing a game to avoid last place.

"In hindsight, it was good for us," Chandler said.

His misgivings, he said, were "when you've lost two games, you don't like to be playing in this game, but at the same time you don't want to go to a tournament and get two games."

The third tournament game was the charm for the Tigers, who scored 18 first-quarter points and pulled away from an opponent they had lost to early in the season, 43-33.

"We were not at full strength then," Chandler said. "We were without our two main ball handlers, (Jodee) Ottino and (Ashley) Hoffman."

Ottino was one of two freshmen who shared the scoring lead for Westville. Ji'Cee Lacey and Ottino each had 10 points.

"They're both capable of that," Chandler said. "We've had a third freshman (Lauren Barthalow) who has led in rebounding some games."

Emilee James was the top rebounder vs. the Cornjerkers, grabbing nine missed shots. Hoffman and Danielle Gabehart each had seven rebounds.

"We've had games where we've had leads in the fourth quarter but didn't handle the intense pressure of the team trying to come back," Chandler said. "Tonight, the kids handled it pretty well and closed it out."

Sarah Dixon and Tori Smock each had seven points for Hoopeston, which received a game-high 11 rebounds from Shelby Holzinger.

In boys' action:

Hoopeston Area 45, Milford 39. The Cornjerkers evened the season series against the Bearcats at 2-2 (there will be a fifth game next month) despite missing 12 of 19 free throws.

"The key," Hoopeston coach Mitch Pruemer said, "was controlling the tempo and not turning the ball over."

Hoopeston had 50 turnovers in its first two games, but nine vs. Milford.

Mason Layden (13 points) and Daniel Lawson (12 points) were the team's top scorers. Josh Killion led Milford with a game-high 15 points. Teammate Jeff Reed had eight rebounds.

"We've been evenly matched over four games," Pruemer said. "It's like playing big brother. It's hard to prepare and change things up."

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