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Girls basketball: Indian River takes FL ‘A’ crown

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Thursday night is sure to be a highlight in Kammikia Barnes’s coming-of-age story.

The Indian River sophomore scored a game-high 18 points to lead her team to a 58-30 victory over Watertown High School in the Frontier League “A” Division girls basketball championship game at Jefferson Community College.

Barnes also provided six rebounds, four assists, four steals and a pair of blocked shots to help Indian River win both the league regular-season and playoff titles for the first time in six years.

“The last two weeks she has kind of come of age, she’s just playing great,” Indian River coach Jim Whitley said. “And she’s not just a scorer. She’s an all-around good basketball player who I think has gone under the radar. I think she’s one of the top players in Section 3 and she’s getting better and better.”

The Warriors went 8-0 against divisional opponents this season and will ride a 10-game win streak into the Section 3 Class A playoffs. The sectional pairings will be revealed on Wednesday.

The Warriors, who completed the three-game season sweep of the Cyclones, led by seven after a close opening half.

But they opened the second half on a 15-1 run to put the game away. By the time it ended midway through the third quarter, Indian River led 38-17.

Ashlynn Borce, Indian River’s only senior, scored eight of her 10 points in the third to spark the Warriors’ run.

“They started making shots and we couldn’t get any momentum going after that,” Watertown coach Jerry Levine said. “Really the better team won tonight. I applaud my girls for their effort, we came out focused and we battled hard.”

Emma Bonk provided 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for Indian River (15-3).

Barnes has posted her three highest scoring totals of the season in Indian River’s last five games. She is averaging 16.2 points per game during that stretch compared to an average of 8.7 through the first 13 games.

“The girls around me helped me by giving me the ball more when I’m in the post,” Barnes said. “They’re giving me the ball more when I’m out running and posting up and that really helps.”

Sarah Mattingly dished out seven assists for the Warriors, who finished with 15 as a team.

“Their experience really showed the way they pass the ball,” Levine said. “We went to help (on defense) and they made some great extra passes to get some open looks and layups.”

The Warriors lost to Carthage in last year’s “A” Division finals, which Barnes said has been a motivator for the duration of the season.

“We were all motivated to get back to this game so we could put it away this year,” she said.

“Most of the girls were on the team last year when we couldn’t put it away in the finals, so that was one of our four big goals of the year so we were happy to put it away as a team tonight.”

Whitley added: “Most of the girls remember that and they didn’t like it very much.”

Watertown, which didn’t qualify for sectionals due to a school rule that states a team must have a .500 record or better, will return all but two players.

The Cyclones (6-12) will lose their leading scorer, senior forward Katie Aldrich, who scored a team-high nine points Thursday to match her season average.

“It was a good learning experience,” Levine said. “I’m proud of the way we played to get here. We haven’t been here in a long time, so it was a positive step for us.”





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