NORTH COLLINS — Abby Rice’s final year of high school basketball is in the stretch run, and Silver Creek’s senior is leaving it all on the court. It took just mere minutes for the Black Knights star to make an impact in Tuesday’s game against North Collins, and once impact was made, she just kept going.
The Black Knights (6-1) blew by the Lady Eagles (2-4) 58-21 from North Collins High School, led by 26 points from Rice, 16 of which came in the first half. Rice’s full set of skills was on display in Tuesday’s action.
“We’re coming off an extended break so I was nervous starting the game today,” said Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice. “But I thought the girls collectively pulled together and had good team focus, which we needed.”
The game went scoreless for the first two minutes of the quarter, but Rice would end that quickly. Shortly thereafter, she converted a layup and a 3-pointer to give Silver Creek the 5-0 edge, then set teammate Jade Bouvier up with a pinpoint pass for an open layup to extend the lead to 7-0. For as good of a scorer as she is, Rice’s passing, and the team’s passing, were key for Silver Creek on Tuesday.
“Court vision is important and we’re still struggling with the finishing part of it,” Coach Rice said. “But we’re making the moves and seeing the court, we just need to reward ourselves with finishing.”
North Collins was able to cut the lead back to 7-5, as Michaela Rice scored two down low, followed by a Hailey Jasinski three pointer, but Rice herself answered with five of her own before the quarter was over, with a 12-5 Silver Creek lead. Rice scored 10 of those 12 Silver Creek points and assisted on the basket she didn’t score herself.
The second quarter, the other hallmark of Silver Creek’s team began to shine through, as North Collins simply could not get a clean look at the basket. The defense, led by Jade Bouvier on the perimeter, Cam Karcz in the high post, and Lucille Jimerson down low forced several off-balance shots and turnovers, as the offense was able to convert.
“Cam Karcz played a very active game in the high post,” Rice said. “That generated a lot of loose balls up around the free throw line that helped a lot too.”
Silver Creek began the second quarter on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 19-5, with Rice picking up another three-pointer and an assist. Awald sank a couple North Collins free throws, before Bouvier and Rice combined for seven more points before the quarter was over, as Silver Creek took a 26-9 lead into the half.
The game continued to trend in favor of Silver Creek, as although the team as a whole, including Rice, went cold from the floor, the defense remained active. Silver Creek held North Collins to just 12 points in the second half, while mostly playing in a man-to-man set. North Collins coach Vincent Fininzio said that he was happy his girls got practice against the defense and level of competition.
“We traditionally struggle to score,” Fininzio said. “The kids have to understand that they just have to play and make decisions as they go. They’re not robots. I can’t just tell them what to do. They have to be decision makers on the court.”
Rice led all scorers with 26 points, in addition to 12 rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocks, while Bouvier added 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Maidre Arenas scored nine, and Cam Karcz, Lucille Jimerson, Emily Schneider, and Andrea Martinez each scored a basket. Tammy Rice knows that other girls are going to have to score, and Arenas in particular is a player she wants more out of.
“We need multiple people involved in scoring and we need multiple girls in double digits,” Rice said. “Madire has a lot of ability and plays with a lot of intensity. She’s not completely comfortable shooting yet, but she’s a great shooter. We encourage her to shoot more and she’s getting there.”
North Collins was led by Jasinski’s 11 points, while Michaela Rice and Autumn Awald each scored four, and Mckenna Rice scored two. Fininzio said that although his team is a mix of younger and older players, they sometimes hit a period of inconsistencies.
“Sometimes we show like we know what we’re doing and sometimes we forget what we’re doing,” said Fininzio. “It’s that ongoing learning curve to get kids to believe what we’re teaching them is going to work.”
Silver Creek is next in action on Thursday, Jan. 6 when they’ll take on the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies at 6:30 p.m. at Silver Creek High School, while North Collins will play against the Forestville Lady Hornets on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at Forestville High School at 6 p.m.