CHAMPION - Monday night's game between Maplewood and Champion was a matchup between two of the area's best female post players in Brooke Dawson and Mackenzie Kiser.
Dawson was playing in the same gym her mother, the former Tracey Lynn, excelled in for the Golden Flashes before graduating in 1990. Kiser wouldn't be shown up, winning the individual battle against Dawson, 30-24, and Champion handed the Rockets their first defeat of the season, 75-60.
"It went really good," said Kiser, who also had 14 rebounds. "All I did was do my post moves like I was supposed to do, and I finished to the hoop strong. It worked out every time."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Champion’s Mackenzie Kiser grabs the basketball before it goes out of bounds during the first half of their game on Monday night against Maplewood.
"That's why Mackenzie Kiser is an all-state player," Champion coach Jeff Thompson said. "Thirty points, I'm not really sure how many rebounds she had, hit her free throws tonight. That's what we need out of her when you play a very good team like Maplewood."
After Maplewood (2-1) took a 15-9 first-quarter lead, Champion came back behind Kiser. The 6-foot senior sank two early baskets for an 18-17 lead, then Gabby Lamont (16 points, including four 3-pointers) hit a 3 for a 28-25 advantage. Lamont later drilled another 3 to extend the lead to 35-29.
"It wasn't so much a defensive adjustment offensively, we just got a little bit more aggressive," Thompson said of his team's turnaround. "We started making the extra pass. The first quarter, we were just slow with the ball movement and the ball rotation offensively. I think we were able to get out and run a little bit, and we just moved the ball better."
Dawson was called for a technical foul, which was converted by Jordyn Skaggs, and Darian Rogers added a three-point play as Champion (2-2) took a 42-31 halftime lead with a 33-point second quarter.
"In the second, third and fourth quarters, our defense was non-existent," Maplewood coach Mark Yoder said. "Both in the perimeter and in the low post. Some of the fans are going to want to make the excuse that we were down two post players for tonight's game. That's no excuse. We all should know how to play defense by now. These are things we work on every day. We just weren't fundamentally sound on the defensive end of the floor."
Kiser had nine points in the third quarter as the Golden Flashes continued to protect their lead. Her three-point play with 2:23 left in the period pushed the lead back to 49-39 after Maplewood had pulled to within seven.
"Brooke was not supposed to be the only one to stop Mackenzie from scoring," Yoder said. "Everybody on the team was supposed to know where she was and what she was doing. Our backside defense was not there. They gave her very little help.
"Also, we were supposed to know where (Lamont) was on the floor at all times. We had girls who had no idea where she was, and she was just popping in 3-pointer after 3-pointer on us in that first half. That's just unexcusable."
Dawson was called for her fourth personal foul with 1:34 left in the third, and with her one foul away from disqualification, Champion drove inside with impunity. Kiser had a basket and then a three-point play for a 59-46 lead. She added another hoop to give Champion its biggest lead of the game, 73-53, with 3:27 to play.
"That took her aggressiveness away, obviously," Yoder said. "She can't play as physical in the low post and if somebody drives at her, she's not going to try and jump in there, block her shot or anything."
Kiser said that with Dawson with four fouls, she knew she could afford to take the ball harder to the basket.
"Yeah, I was more aggressive," Kiser said. "I knew that I needed to take the ball into her to draw another foul and get her into foul trouble so she'd have to lay off more and I could have an easier time scoring."