Elmore, Chieftains dominate Falcons in BVC clash

BASCOM — Before the start of Thursday’s contest between Hopewell-Loudon and Riverdale, the national anthem was played through its entirety and accidentally started to repeat.

During the game, Riverdale had to feel like most H-L possessions were on repeat as the Chieftains repeatedly fed MaKayla Elmore inside.

The sophomore finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, four assists, and three steals as H-L doubled up the Falcons 58-29 in Blanchard Valley Conference action.

“She is athletic,” Hopewell-Loudon coach Bob Gase said. “She is an offensive player and she loves the game. That is the difference — she loves the game — and that makes her a better player.”

Riverdale coach Emily Reynolds knew defending Elmore was a tall task.

“Elmore is tough to play. She is tough,” Reynolds said. “She finishes well at the basket, she plays like a guard, and she is 6-foot tall. I thought defensively, we did not do bad.”

The Chieftains (4-1 overall, 2-0 BVC) scored the first five points of the game and led 7-4 when their defense went into shut down mode, forcing Riverdale (2-4, 0-2) into numerous turnovers while cashing in on the offensive end.

Hope Kreais’ bucket pushed the lead to 10-4, prompting a timeout from Reynolds with 3:34 left in the opening quarter. From there, Makenzie Coleman scored twice, and scores from Kreais, Morgan Searles, and Elmore gave H-L a 20-4 advantage after eight minutes.

“We talked about coming out strong before the game,” Gase said. “I stressed that in the locker room ahead of time. Riverdale is a team that is dangerous that way. You let them stick around and only play a half-court game with them, you can get in trouble.”

The onslaught did not stop just because the quarter ended. Kreais hit a short jumper and Elmore connected on two free throws before Hannah Breidenbach hit a 3-pointer for the Falcons, ending a 6:21 scoreless drought for Riverdale.

Later, leading 28-12, the final 90 seconds of the half belonged to H-L, specifically Elmore. She was fouled and made two free throws before grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring with four seconds left in the half, putting the Chieftains up 20 points at the half.

“We started in a triangle-and-two defense and it just did not work,” Reynolds said. “Our girls over-emphasized on Elmore too much. We were not worried about the back side enough. We went to a man defense. We were not going to stop her and we knew it.”

The defensive effort by H-L in the third quarter was even better than the first half. After forcing 17 turnovers in the first half, the Chieftains forced just four in the third quarter, but also forced Riverdale into tough shot after tough shot.

The Falcons missed 11 of their first 12 shots in the third quarter as H-L opened the quarter on a 13-1 run over the first 6:49 of the quarter. Riverdale did bounce back and made a pair of field goals, but the Chieftains were in firm control, up 45-18 after three quarters.

“Our shooting was not very good tonight,” Gase said. “That was off a little bit, but that happens… We have to give the girls breaks when we can. This game was not that fast.”

Elmore scored twice more in the fourth quarter before exiting the game. The lone senior for H-L — Kirstyn Sadler — hit a pair of 3-pointers, much to the delight of the Chieftain crowd.

“We did not adjust to the way the referees were calling fouls and that is part of defense,” Gase said. “We will work on that, but right now, that is hard to do because we have five games in 10 days. There is not a lot you can do with not a lot of practice.”

Kreais and Zender each added eight points apiece for H-L. Kreais grabbed six rebounds and dished three assists while Coleman added seven points and six rebounds.

“These girls do not care who scores,” Gase said. “They just like to win. It is whatever we have to do to win, they are all for it. That makes it fun coaching them.”