MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — The girls' basketball rivalry between Martinsville and Mooresville has always been hotly contested. But it's no secret who's had the upper hand as of late.
Entering Tuesday's matchup, the Pioneers had won three of the last four meetings, including a blistering 74-17 win last season, but with both teams boasting young, improving rosters, there was an opportunity for it to be a competitive showdown. Mooresville shut that notion down quickly.
A 16-2 start turned into a 37-11 halftime lead in favor of the Pioneers. By the time it was over, Mooresville outscored the Artesians 51-17 for its 18th win over Martinsville in the last 28 meetings.
"We were pretty disappointed after Friday's performance against Columbus East," Mooresville coach Mark Hurt said. "We came in shooting 33%, so it was really nice to see we shot 56% in the first half. We're keeping our turnovers down and when we put the ball in the basket, we can be a pretty decent team."
What made the difference
Mooresville's defense was relentless. The Pioneers stayed on the attack throughout the duration of the game, using the full-court press early and often to force Martinsville into making mistakes. With the Artesians piling up 23 turnovers, and shooting only 25%, the method proved effective.
"That was kind of the plan coming in," Hurt said. "We told the girls before the game that we want to put pressure on, but we don't want to foul. I thought we fouled too much in the first half, but overall I was pleased with the defensive effort."
Generating offense while under duress is something Martinsville's focused on, but with the youthful roster the Artesians have, it's difficult to replicate in practice. More often than not, the team's had to learn through real-time game situations.
"You're not going to beat very many people turning the ball over 20-plus times," Martinsville coach Dave Dorsett said. "It's hard to duplicate (the pressure) in practice. We try to create pressure with some of our coaches, but it's hard to duplicate game-type situations for the 4A schedule we play."
Eight of Martinsville's 17 points came from the free throw line. Due to Mooresville's defensive tenacity, the Artesians attempted only 16 shots.
By the numbers
Another game, another outpouring of points by Mooresville's Rachel Harshman. The junior's lived up to expectations, entering the game averaging 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds. Tuesday, the junior notched 16 points, cashing in two triples to aid the effort. Junior Emma McGinley trailed shortly behind with 10 points, and Ava Shafer added seven.
On the Martinsville side, Marina Rautenkranz led the Artesians in scoring with seven points, followed by a four-point performance by Paycee Lewis.
It wasn't a stat-centric performance, but Mooresville freshman Lyla Jacobs impressed with her play, especially in the first half. Jacobs scored six points in the second quarter, including a teardrop layup just before halftime.
The freshman also had a couple of steals.
"We've been watching her on the JV team and we like her quickness, her smarts," Hurt said. "We think she's got a really good future here for us."
What it means
Both teams are trying to adjust to the influx of young talent. On the Mooresville side, that process has been smoother. The win over the Artesians puts the Pioneers at 4-4 on the season and provides a 1-0 start in Mid-State Conference play.
"We have a really young ball club this year with only one senior," Hurt said. "The girls just need to play. Our inexperience showed early in the year. I think we're getting better each week which is how we want to be."
Martinsville, which falls to 0-7, is treating each game as a learning experience. Dorsett believes the matchup with the Pioneers adequately provided that.
"These kids are growing, they're improving, we're happy with where they're at," Dorsett said. "This game made us better tonight. We're not worried about the wins and losses. We set a goal that we were going to get fundamentally better and grow this year. So far we've grown leaps and bound. I've got good, hard working kids."
"We've got to get better, and we will, we'll work and get better," he said. "I don't know what the best is going to be, but we'll get there."
Martinsville gets a long break, returning to action on Dec. 2 to play Mid-State rival Greenwood. Mooresville has a date with Terre Haute North on Nov. 29.
Contact reporter Devin Voss at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @DevinVoss23.
This article originally appeared on The Reporter Times: Mooresville packs the pressure against county rival Martinsville