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A Gale-force win: Junior guard helps South Central hold off Kouts in PCC opener

UNION MILLS -- Sure, 3-point shooting is Delanie Gale's calling card, but the South Central junior doesn't want to be labeled as a one-trick act.

"I feel like when people look at my film, my stats, even in warmups, they expect me to stay on the 3-point line," Gale said.

So while Gale had the long ball working Thursday against Kouts, hitting a pair of treys, she also had her short game clicking, scoring on the move and at the rim on her way to a 23-point outing that lifted the Satellites past stubborn Kouts 53-49 in a Porter County Conference opener.

"I think my inside game was probably the best I've had all year," Gale said. "I'm not going to lie, I heard their coach say, hey, we've got to put somebody on her on the 3-point arc, so I'm, OK, if you want to guard me out there, I'll take you down low. I love the contact."

Gale popped a trey, converted an and-one on a drive, hit two free throws and cashed in one of her four steals in a 10-point first half when she and Kouts' Lyndsey Kobza (10 points) were the only players who could put the ball in the basket.

Delanie Gale

"We held them to 14, the problem was we couldn't make anything," SC coach Wes Bucher said. "We missed so many layups. They do a good job going straight up, and when you're not the tallest team and you're not making shots inside, it takes something away from you. We've got to keep working on being physical. We had good looks, we just couldn't get them to fall. We couldn't buy a basket for a while."

Gale again propped up the Satellites in the third with a triple and a drive right of the bat to quickly push the margin to 10 (24-14) and had two more three-point plays on the night. She put in two free throws with 35 seconds left after Kouts (3-2) rallied within 50-49.

"It was the physicality going to the rim," Bucher said. "We talked about it just last night in practice, D, you got free rein. Right now, she's making a lot of really good reads with the basketball. We've talked about getting in the lane and going too hard and having an awkward shot. She had a jump stop in the middle of the lane, a couple jumpers. She was under control the entire night. She looks like a junior. She's learned a lot about the game, she's busted her butt, and it shows. It's just about her being focused and ready to go at the beginning. When she's keyed in, she's fun to watch."

So is Kouts sophomore Ally Capouch, who splashed four fourth-quarter triples to nearly wipe out a deficit that peaked at 12 (28-16) in the third.

"The first quarter was absolutely horrific for us," Fillies coach Ron Kobza said. "We were real soft. We didn't run anything we worked on to prepare for their 1-3-1. We never moved the ball. We just hung on to it. Ally was trying to force too many things. They were putting good pressure on her. She was rushing some of her shots. We have to set more screens to free her up a little bit and she has to learn how to deal with that a little better. She works hard on her craft. If we had gotten over the top, it might've put more pressure on them."

Abbie Tomblin hounded Capouch all game, limiting her to two first-half points on 1-of-9 shooting.

"Abbie did a great job on her," Bucher said. "It kind of like a boxing match. They were trading punches. She's beat Abbie off the dribble, then Abbie'd get a steal. We knew she was the one we had to slow down. We kept her in check. They were impressive shots. The thing you have to do with shooters is try to wear out the legs."

Capouch, who finished with a game-high 21 points, had a chance to tie the game after Gale's free throws, but she was short on a deep, contested 3 and Olivia Marks' foul shot at 14.7 seconds provided the final margin.

"The first half, we were up on her, getting her rattled," Gale said. "The second half, when you let people continue to shoot, they're going to get hot. It happens with every shooter. When she started hitting a lot, every time there was a screen, the girl that was guarding somebody who came in for the fouled out players would go at Capouch to try to throw her off guard."

Kouts' task was made more difficult by having three starters foul out.

"I'm excited about the youth we have in the program," said Kobza, who starts four sophomores and a junior. "We've just got to understand situations a little better, become a little stronger. You can tell they were the more aggressive team, offensively and defensively. They just outworked us. But to lose only by four points shows we're making a push in the right direction to be back with Morgan and South Central in the conference."

S.C. (4-2) made 12 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter and 18 of 25 overall.

"You can tell we've played some bigger schools, we've been battled tested, and fought late," Bucher said. "We persevered. Abbie was making the right decisions. We held the ball really well at the end, read screens, took good shots and made sure we got to the free throw line. It was kind of old school basketball. We spend a fair share of time on free throws. That's going to be a big thing going forward, especially if we're going to be more aggressive going to the basket. That was really a pleasant change. Playing against Kouts is always a battle. They fight. They have that chip on their shoulder, knowing they want to be top in the conference."

The Satellites held a double-digit advantage on the boards with Kate Welsh (seven), Gale (six), Olivia Tolmen (six), Falyn Anthony (five) and Marks (five) all doing glass work.

"From the beginning of the season to now, rebounding has been our biggest fault," Gale said. "We've worked on it every day in practice. As a team, we rebounded really well."

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