MINFORD — When Livi Shonkwiler believes in Livi Shonkwiler, good things happen.
That’s the scouting report on Minford’s sophomore guard … one she must’ve read herself before suiting up against Portsmouth West.
So with a shot of confidence, Shonkwiler habitually sliced and diced her way to the basket Wednesday en route to a game-high 23 points, in a 74-52 victory over the Senators in Southern Ohio Conference II action.
But she was quick to cast any sort of credit for her big night onto teammate Maddie Slusher.
“Tonight we played pretty good, I think,” Shonkwiler said. “We’re getting ready for Oak Hill and they’re pretty good. So we have step up our defense more tomorrow. A lot of [her 23 points] came thanks to Maddie. She had assists and stole the ball a lot. So it’s all thanks to her.”
While Slusher certainly had herself a night, Shonkwiler had to hit her open shots. And even though she doesn’t want to take credit, Minford coach Shane Davis gave it to her anyways.
“Livi needed tonight for confidence, she really did,” Davis said. “We’re always telling her to shoot the basketball. If she believes in herself and has confidence, she can really play … that’s her thing right now.”
And he didn’t forget about Slusher who, as Shonkwiler mentioned, enjoyed success on both ends of the floor. The junior finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
“Maddie Slusher’s effort never drops off,” Davis said. “She’s always around the ball and her effort is phenomenal. Livi is playing defense, too. I can’t say enough about either of them.”
While Shonkwiler and Slusher certainly led Minford (1-1, 1-1 SOC II) in a broad sense, they also had all the help they’d ever want or need. Four Falcons reached double-digit scoring figures including Ashley Blankenship and Makenzie Watters.
But Davis doesn’t care who scores as long as Minford comes out on top.
“Tonight we shared the basketball and that’s what we’ve been emphasizing all week,” he said. “I don’t care who scores or how many. I think our girls are OK with that. Our big emphasis is to play as a team.”
After a season-opening loss to Wheelersburg, Wednesday’s win was a big momentum builder heading into Thursdays’ contest against Oak Hill. The fact that the Falcons played as a team and showed significant signs of improvement in such a short period of time speaks volumes.
But yes, there are still things to work on.
“We played really good team basketball after a hard loss to Wheelersburg,” Slusher said. “We played a lot better offense and defense, both. But we still need to work on communication on defense, but that will get there.”
The Senators (2-1, 1-1 SOC II) took an early 4-0 lead, only to see the Falcons rip off a 13-2 run, taking a 13-6 lead; one they’d never relinquish. By halftime, Minford had built a 35-22 edge.
But out of the break, West twice found guard Jordyn Swords wide open in the corner. When Swords proceeded to knock down back-to-back 3’s, all of the sudden, the lead had been cut to six at 35-28.
“We did some different things and I threw a different defense at [West] and we had a slow rotation on the backside,” Davis said. “But that’s my fault as a coach. It’s something I wanted to look at, see if it would work. West has a couple of shooters. They flipped the switch and made us start playing again. But we tried a couple of things, it didn’t work, and we got out of those defensive sets.”
Once that happened, Davis’ Falcons dug back in and went on a 19-7 run to break things wide open at 54-35. Then, they sat back in the driver’s seat and switched into cruise control.
Following Shonkwiler and Slusher’s efforts was junior Makenzie Watters with 12 point and eight rebounds, followed by Ashley Blankenship with 13 points. Hannah Tolle also helped out, scoring eight points and grabbing a game-high 11 boards.
Sword led the Senators with 18 points while Emily Sissel added 11 and five rebounds. Freshman Eden Cline was also a factor, coming off the bench to score 11 points of her own.
What’s on tap
The Falcons get back into SOC II play Thursday evening, hosting Oak Hill while West follows suit, trying to bounce back against South Webster.
“Oak Hill has a few girls on their team that we really need to watch,” Slusher said. “I have a feeling they’re going to drive a lot so we need to work on switching screens. We really need that win. It will build a lot of momentum for us.”
Portsmouth West: 13-9-13-17 — 52
Minford: 21-14-19-20 — 74
Portsmouth West: 18-43 FG, 9-15 FT, 7-14 3pt. (Cline 3), 23 rebounds (Rigsby 8), 23 turnovers, 9 assists (Adkins 6). Scoring: Swords 18, Cline 11, Sissel 11, Pack 7, Adkins 5.
Minford: 30-67 FG, 9-16 FT, 5-21 3pt. (Slusher 2), 37 rebounds (Tolle 11), 16 turnovers, 15 assists (Slusher 7). Scoring: Shonkwiler 23, Blankenship 13, Watters 12, Slusher 11, Tolle 8, Thacker 4, Wolfenbarker 3.
Minford has four players reach double-digit scoring figures Wednesday night, including Livi Shonkwiler with a game-high 23 points.