The Mill splits varsity matchups with crosstown rival


Shelby Foster

Two Panther seniors set up their defense against McIntosh. Starr’s Mill ran a 2-3 zone and held the Chiefs to 64 points on the night.

John Webb, Sports co-Editor

Tuesday night, Starr’s Mill varsity basketball teams traveled to face region rival McIntosh High School. The Lady Panthers went into their game with a record of 5-1 overall and undefeated on the road. In just their third away matchup, the girls faced a winless Chiefs lineup which was coming off a 56-34 blowout by visiting team Lambert.

Katie Linkner
A Starr’s Mill guard takes the ball up the court against McIntosh’s relentless press. The Panthers’ solid guard play handled the Chief defense throughout the game.

From the tip, McIntosh applied a full court press to the Lady Panthers. Thanks to solid guard play by sophomores Alice Anne Hudson and Ashtyn Lally as well as junior Alyssa Angelo, the Mill maintained composure and took care of business.

“We had worked on it some throughout the season and we knew they were going to press,” head coach Emily Sweeney said. “Luckily we had some ball handlers who could deal with it.”

After two quarters that consisted of solid rebounding and patient defense resulting in lots of steals for Starr’s Mill, the visiting side left the court at half with a 19-18 lead.

In the second half, the Mill’s offense heated up as McIntosh’s defense was clearly worn out by the Panther ball movement. Thanks to consistent rebounds and putbacks from freshman Ali Rumpel, who put up 11 points and 10 rebounds, Starr’s Mill went into the final period with a 33-26 lead.

The fourth quarter saw more of the same from the Lady Panthers as their lead was never in much question. Hudson’s five steals to go along with nine rebounds, four assists, and eight points were too much for the Lady Chiefs. The game ended in favor of the Panthers, 46-35, and the Battle of the Bubble was looking promising for Starr’s Mill as a whole.

The Lady Panthers were scheduled to take on Whitewater Friday night, but due to winter weather the game has been postponed. 

Following last year’s 18-11 record, the Starr’s Mill boys’ varsity team looked to head into the 2017-2018 season with a new and improved team. After losing three seniors along with starting point guard Zach Pina, the Panthers new look left a lot of questions to be answered.

“The team was really excited prior to the game,” senior captain Jake Bishop said. “We got in the zone in the locker room and couldn’t wait to hit the court.”

Shelby Foster
A Panther player looks for an open teammate as the Chiefs close in on defense. Starr’s Mill scored 54 points on McIntosh, but could not keep up with the Chiefs’ firepower for four quarters.

In the first quarter, the Panthers and Chiefs traded blows back and forth. Junior Julian Lynch got off to a hot start with three easy put backs in the first five minutes, while Starr’s Mill played solid defense on the other end. The Panthers implemented a 2-3 defense with its wings pulled up to counter McIntosh’s three point threat, and relied on solid rebounding to avoid putback opportunities from the Chiefs.

“We started out in the 3-2 but had trouble dealing with their big man at the top of the paint,” head coach Brandon Hutchins said. “I think they had 26 going into half. That’s what they scored in one quarter just a few games earlier.”

The second quarter saw no let up in the action. Senior Drew Hudson hit multiple shots including a couple of corner threes to slow down McIntosh’s senior guard Chaz Hardin who finished the night with 23 points, six assists, and six steals. The Chiefs press paid off in the second quarter as Hardin and his backcourt combined for 18 total steals in the game.

“I thought we handled [the press] pretty well for the most part,” Hutchins said. “They probably got eight or ten points off of it, but it wasn’t that bothersome.”

Starr’s Mill came out of halftime down three and needing an offensive catalyst to stay head to head with the Chiefs. This answer came with some big three pointers from senior guard Carson Langham, forward Hudson, and a couple of nice points from Lynch.

“[Lynch] and [Hudson] helped keep our offense going when we got cold shooting,” Bishop said. “We tried to keep the ball moving and get as many open shots as possible.”

Headed into the final quarter, Starr’s Mill was down by eight as the Chiefs had capitalized on the Panthers’ seven-point second quarter. McIntosh would be able to close out the game with their highest scoring quarter of the night, 20 points, thanks in large part to Starr’s Mill fouls that sent their opponents to the free throw line.

The final ended with the Chiefs on top of the Panthers 64-54, and Starr’s Mill split the varsity matchups one to one. The Panthers had some encouraging performances, namely from Hudson who finished with 18 points and Lynch who had 22, but it was not enough to get the win.

The next matchup between these two teams will take place on Jan. 19 at Starr’s Mill, as the girls are scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. and the boys game will follow. The boys’ varsity team could have a key piece, junior forward Nate Allison, back with the team after an injury, but the timetable for his return is still not completely clear.

The boys’ team takes its 4-2 record into three holiday tournaments over the break before returning to region play at home on Jan. 9 against Fayette County.  Likewise on the girls’ side, boasting a 6-1 overall record, the team will compete in two holiday tournaments before their next region game against Fayette County.