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Bears rout shorthanded Indians with complete game

By Bill Althaus
William Chrisman's Jacque David, right, and Lillian Miller, center, try to wrench the ball away from the grasp of Fort Osage's Ashlyn Buntin in Tuesday's game at Chrisman. The host Bears went on to claim a 61-21 victory.

Minutes into the U.S. 24 rivalry matchu between host William Chrisman and the Fort Osage Indians, it was clear it was going to be a big night for coach Scott Schaefer’s Bears.

Gia Moore made the Indians’ defense come to the perimeter as she hit her first three 3-point shots.

Jacque David and Mele Taula then dominated in the paint as they scored eight of their combined 30 points in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Bears' defense was as perfect as the game plan was written on the blackboard before the game and Amanda Szopinski dished off 11 assists as Chrisman claimed a 61-21 Suburban Middle Six victory Tuesday

The Bears (9-5, 1-0 Middle Six) used a 22-0 first quarter to springboard to their most dominant win of the season as Taula finished with 16 points, Moore added 15 and David 14. Schaefer took his starters out a minute into the fourth quarter, so they could cheer on the reserves who took the court.

William Chrisman's Amanda Szopinski (44) goes up for a shot under pressure from Fort Osage defender Emmah Crowe (43) in Tuesday's game at Chrisman. Szopinski had 11 assists to help lead the host Bears to a 61-21 rout of the Indians.

“This is the game we’ve been looking for,” said David, who recently returned to the Bears after suffering a torn ACL last basketball season. “We’ve worked so hard, and when Gia opens a game with all those 3-point baskets, it makes it a lot easier for us inside.”

Taula, a sophomore, said having a full lineup back also helps.

“This was all about team play,” Taula said. “We’ve been working so hard this season and we’ve had some of our teammates out with injuries, but that just made us a better team once they returned.

“Gia started everything off hitting from the outside. Fort Osage had to go out and guard our 3-point shooters and that left a lot of room for me and Jacque to score inside.”

While the Bears’ offense attracted so much attention, Schaefer pointed out the importance of his team’s defensive performance as it blanked the Indians in the first quarter and held them to just seven points in each of the second, third and fourth quarters.

“We did an outstanding job defensively and we found the open players all night and that led to some easy baskets,” Schaefer said. “Amanda did a great job getting 11 assists, and we had the nice inside/outside game working with Jacque and Mele and Gia.”

When asked what Moore’s first-quarter meant to the Bears, the coach had a ready answer.

William Chrisman's Krysta McAllister (5) goes up for a shot against Fort Osage's Katelyn Smith (14) in the Bears' 61-21 rout of the Indians Tuesday.

“She played with a lot of confidence tonight, and you’re going to play with a lot of confidence when you hit your first three (3-point) attempts,” Schaefer said. “And that just opened up the inside for Jacque and Mele. I’m really proud of our girls tonight.”

Fort Osage coach Lindsay Thompson, who patiently waited several minutes after the game to talk about her team, praised her banged-up squad.

“We’re young, and we’re missing five varsity players who are all on injured reserve,” Thompson said, “but you will never hear one of our girls make an excuse.

“They are a joy to be around and so much fun to coach. They were working as hard in the first quarter as they were at the end of the game. I’m so proud of their spirit and the way they compete, although none of us are happy with the final score.

“But a lot of kids got some valuable experience tonight and that will help us down the road.’

Katelyn Ward scored eight points to lead the Indians (2-5, 0-2), who have lost five straight.

William Chrisman's Mele Taula (20) scores two of her game-high 16 points in the Bears' 61-21 rout of Fort Osage Tuesday.