Elmore posts double-double, Chieftains best Knights 50-41

Photo courtesy of S.O.O.G.H Media Hopewell-Loudon’s MaKayla Elmore drives past a West Holmes defender Monday at the Classic in the Country at Hiland.

BERLIN — There are many, many times when Hopewell-Loudon’s MaKayla Elmore is double- and even triple-teamed.

The sophomore is used to it and has adapted her game to the barrage.

Sometimes the multiple defenders leave Elmore’s teammates wide open, like when Elmore found Lennah Fox under the hoop for an easy layup to push the Chieftains’ lead back to double digits in the third quarter.

“That is where she is growing,” Hopewell-Loudon coach Bob Gase said. “She knows when she needs to pass the basketball.”

Oh yeah, and Elmore is pretty darn good herself.

Elmore racked up 27 points and 12 rebounds in front of a plethora of college coaches, leading Hopewell-Loudon to a 50-41 victory over West Holmes at the 16th annual Classic in the Country Monday.

“She is a player,” Gase said. “She has actually had her best games when she knows there is a college coach watching. (West Holmes) tried to play her straight up and there is not too many people that can do that.”

Elmore, who was compared to Candice Parker by one of the elite scouts in the country who watched the game, is used to playing in big exposure events over the summer with her AAU team.

“I am used to this — all the exposure and all the people,” Elmore said. “I just played my game today. That was definitely one of our best games.”

Despite all the attention that Elmore gets, a lot of it was deflected by Olivia Zender, who connected on four 3-pointers en route to 13 points.

“She is a great shooter and we talked about leaving and doubling (Elmore), but you can not leave off of (Zender),” West Holmes coach Lindsy Snyder said. “They were able to find her and when you are a shooter, you spot up and find your shots.”

The Chieftains (12-4) led the game from start to finish and jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead after a Zender 3 and Elmore bucket inside.

West Holmes (8-6) got within 7-6 after Katie Sprang scored off an offensive rebound, but Elmore and Kenzie Coleman scored around another triple from Zender for a 14-6 lead after eight minutes.

“I think we had a lot of team work coming off a tough loss,” Zender said. “We did not really click then, but we clicked today.”

In the second quarter, Taylor Miller’s bucket off a steal cut the margin to six points, but Zender hit a 3 before scores from Coleman and Elmore extended the lead to 21-8 with 5:00 left in the second quarter.

The Knights responded with seven straight points, but Elmore connected on two 3s — one from each side of the court — to push H-L ahead 27-17 at halftime.

“She is a real nice player,” said Snyder of Elmore. “She can do multiple aspects of the game. She is a rebounder, she can post, she can shoot it, and she can handle the ball. There is not a lot she can’t do.”

The teams battled back and forth for most of the third quarter. The bucket from Fox gave the Chieftains a 34-24 lead with 3:15 left in the quarter, but that was the last score of the quarter for Hopewell-Loudon. Consecutive buckets from Regan Wilcox and Sprang brought West Holmes within 34-28 after three quarters.

“Our shooting was good in the first half,” Gase said. “Olivia hit those 3s early and (Elmore) got here. Everyone was just flowing and I think we confused them defensively a little bit.”

Elmore split a pair of free throws to open the fourth quarter, but West Holmes’ Paige Race connected on a 3-pointer. Zender hit her fourth and final 3 to respond on the other end, but Race scored then added a three-point play off one of the Chieftains’ 18 turnovers to bring the Knights back within 38-36.

But, from there, Elmore asserted herself even more. She scored and then split two free throws as West Holmes continued to come up empty on its possessions. Zender fouled out with 2:14 left, but the Knights could not get any closer than four points.

“They would not be here if they were not going to make a run,” Gase said. “It was time to get the ball up the floor. I knew they pressed with us being as short as we are — MaKayla is tall, but after that, we go downhill fast.”

Elmore made 5 of 6 free throws over the final 43 seconds to seal the win after Race had made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 45-41 with 44.9 seconds left. Coleman had two big baskets down the stretch to help the Chieftains. The first came on a long outlet pass after an Elmore rebound, and another off her own offensive rebound after missing two free throws.

“We were playing a matchup zone, so sometimes people look at it as a man (defense), some look at it as a zone, and it is somewhere in between,” Gase said. “The girls are still learning it. We still have a ways to go on it.”

Race led the Knights with 20 points while Sprang scored 14 points. West Holmes connected on just 2 of 22 3-pointers.

“We can not live and die by the offensive end,” Snyder said. “It comes down to defense and rebounding. When we do those two things — if your shot is going in, great. If it is not, that is OK because we are going to continue to get stops.”

Elmore added five steals, while Zender, Elmore, Coleman, and Abbe Biedelschies each had two assists.