OLD FORT - Progress is measured in different ways. Old Fort coach Jennifer Miller saw a good deal of progress in her team Friday night. But while her Stockader team was still growing, the Seneca East Tigers were ready to pounce on the younger, more inexperienced team.
Seneca East jumped out to a 28-7 halftime lead, held Old Fort to four field goals through the first three quarters, and cruised to a 43-20 victory.
After the game when Seneca East coach Dave Stallings was listing his players who had strong nights, he seemingly ran through the entire roster.
Two players, though, did stand out: Ashton Daniel, who had a game-high 14 points, and Hannah Hahler, who was tops on the glass collecting 13 rebounds.
"The girls came out ready to play," Stallings said. "We put our press on early, got the turnovers that we wanted. We only had (six) turnovers in the first half, so offensively I thought we did a good job moving the ball around. Hannah Hahler did a nice job in the post, looking out to the wings, passing it to our open girls. Ashton got her points and I think overall we just had a good night."
Daniel (7) and Hahler (4) got the Tigers started scoring all of the team's first quarter points, en route to a 11-3 advantage after one. Daniel scored five more in the second quarter as the Tigers used a 17-4 run to push the lead to 21 heading into the locker rooms.
"Every time down the floor before we shot, I wanted a high-post or low post touch," Stallings said. "That's what we were getting. Hannah got in the low post and she'd either square up to shoot, or square up and look at the backside. That's what we've been working on and it worked well tonight."
"We're meshing really well this year," Daniel said of her team. "We practice getting it in (to the post) and kicking it back out. Getting our outside shots in and getting out post players involved. Everybody's getting along and having that on-court presence, everybody is having it."
Daniel added six rebounds to her night's work.
Stallings said he might've provided the spark that got her going.
"I yelled at her a couple times for not hustling down the floor and I think ... I think that lit her up a little bit," he said. "She's a competitor; she wants to play hard every game. Win or lose, she's going to play hard, just like the rest of the girls too."
Defensively the Tigers kept Old Fort from getting many open looks as the Stockaders shot just 2 of 21 from the floor in the first 16 minutes.
"We were talking, had active hands and were moving our feet," Daniel said as the key to the Tiger defense. "We were everywhere we needed to be and had good rotation."
For the first time all season, Old Fort was playing with its full team. The Stockader roster features only one senior, and one junior, and each had been out of action with concussions. Senior Mackenzie Gillett was playing her first game since being injured in the season opener. Krista Ward took the floor for the first time all season after suffering an injury in the preseason.
"As a team I thought tonight we looked better than we have in the past," Miller said. "We have our senior and our junior back. We had some girls who stepped up tonight. It's hard when you lose to see those things, but in retrospect it was a positive night. We've got better and that's our goal. We have to get better every single game."
Miller pointed out the play of two sophomores, Sammy Miller and Sam Hartsel. Miller provided the offensive spark, scoring 11 points. Hartsel meanwhile played strong in the post, pulling down a team-high nine rebounds.
"I had two sophomores who I thought really stood out. One of them defensively and one of them offensively," coach Miller said. "We've lacked someone to go in and score for us. We lacked those leaders.
"Sammy on offense, she hit a couple shots. Then Sam Hartsel, she attacked the basket tonight, rebounded well and played good defense."
Seneca East moves to 4-2, 2-1 Midland Athletic League. Old Fort (0-7, 0-3) is still looking for its first win of the year.