The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

January 17, 2013

Pacers roll into Ponca City, Plainsmen seek traction

ENID, Okla. — Never mind the 6-1 start — coach Robb Mills said the No. 10 Enid girls are playing their best basketball in the 4-1 stretch since winter break.

“We’ve taken some steps in the right direction, especially at the Muskogee tournament,” he said.

When the team entered its time off on a seemingly high note, beating then 4A’s 16th-ranked Woodward 50-43 on the road on Dec. 18, Mills said the team hadn’t come close to its potential, a sentiment the Pacers themselves echoed.

Now the team is backing that claim.

Enid’s lone loss since Jan. 4, the end of the team’s 15-day hiatus, was in last week’s championship game of the Muskogee Shrine Tournament, when the Pacers lost 68-66 to homestanding No. 8 Muskogee. Even in the loss, perhaps the most important cog in Enid’s machinery, senior and leading scorer Courtney Chelf, scored a season-high 27 points, punctuating a second half that has her topping 17 points per game, up from 15.1 before the break.

“I worked really hard over Christmas to get my shot going,” Chelf said. “I feel like my offense is getting a lot better.”

“(Chelf) is picking up her game, but our whole team is,” Mills said. “We’ve had balanced scoring every night, so I think the team is taking a step forward.”

Among Chelf’s teammates contributing to the Pacers’ five-point uptick per game in the last five contests is Haven Bay, who scored a season-best 15 Tuesday against No. 19 Stillwater to raise her average to 11.2 from 8.0.

Freshman Andi Pierce, who has averaged 9.4 points per game during that same stretch, up from 5.8, including a career-high 11 on Tuesday.

“The Stillwater game, we had four girls in double digits,” said Bay. “That’s good, when everyone’s scoring.”

Ponca City enters tonight’s game at 4-9, including four losses in five games since its own winter vacation, running opposite the visiting Pacers’ recent run.

“They’ve played some very good teams close,” Mills said. “They’re always good rebounders, they’re always good on defense, so we’ve just got to be ready. They play as disciplined of basketball as probably a team can play.”

“They’re always hard to play,” Bay said. “Their defense is always really good, and they’re always really well-coached.”

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