ROTTERDAM — Schalmont forward Karissa Antoine spent a good portion of the second half yelling rather than shooting in Thursday night’s non-league basketball game against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.
“My best moment was on the bench shouting for Kendall,” Antoine said of senior teammate Kendall Fleming. “We wanted her to keep shooting and keep scoring.”
Fleming did that, knocking down four consecutive 3-point baskets before a late-game miss. But prior to her long-distance spree, the damage had already been done in the form of a knockout first half in which Antoine played a big role.
The 5-foot-10 eighth-grader scored 13 of her 19 points in the first half and snared six of her eight rebounds during that stretch when the Sabres raced to a 39-20 lead in what would be a 71-53 win over the defending Section II Class D-champion Golden Knights.
“The first couple of weeks, she was feeling it out,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said of Antoine, who played on the junior varsity last season. “Feeling her place on the team.”
Antoine has obviously found it, serving as a defensive stopper and rebounder down low, and a scorer there as well as on the perimeter. She sank her fourth 3-point basket this season in the first quarter, and hit a soft 12-footer in the third to go with a variety of inside moves.
“She can shoot it and take it to the rim,” Schalmont sophomore Haley Burchhardt said of Schalmont’s youngest player. “With her height, even when multiple girls are on her, she can score.”
“The girls know to get her the ball,” Van Hoesen said.
Antoine scored in double digits for the sixth game in a row, and for the seventh time in Schalmont’s nine outings. Her season-high was 29 in a mid-December win over Ichabod Crane.
“Just go out and ball, like I usually do,” Antoine said of her role with the team. “Just go for it.”
“For being so young, she’s handled it really well,” Burchhardt said.
Antoine joins Burchhardt, sophomores Payton Graber and Siena Hallberg, and senior Emily Lenehan in Schalmont’s starting lineup. The five have spearheaded the Sabres’ drive to eight wins in nine games.
“Their maturity keeps growing throughout the season,” Van Hoesen said. “Our youth is jelling together.”
Van Hoesen was particularly pleased with his teams’ inside-outside attacking style and the way the girls helped defensively in quelling Bishop Gibbons.
“It’s like we’ve been playing together for years,” Antoine said after adding three assists and two steals to her stat line. “We have that chemistry on the court.”
Sharing the ball and a collective effort at the defensive end helped Schalmont build its first-half lead. During one segment of the second quarter, Schalmont strung together 17 unanswered points with stops followed by buckets.
“Defense wins games,” Antoine said. “If we have a couple of bumps on defense, we come back hard.”
Schalmont’s defensive press flustered Bishop Gibbons (8-2).
“Last year, it [press] worked well, too,” Burchhardt said. “It doesn’t matter who is out there. We know we can depend on everyone.”
Burchhardt had all four of her steals as part of Schalmont’s big first half, as well as five of her seven assists during those 16 minutes. She also contributed nine points.
“She is a high-intensity, high-energy girl,” Antoine said of Burchhardt. “She gives us that push.”
Burchhardt and Antoine shared an on-court smile in the third quarter when Burchhardt fed Antoine for a layup, and moments later, Antoine found Burchhardt for a layup as part of an 11-0 run.
“In our last three or four games Haley has done a great job of looking for her teammates, and it’s made us a better team,” Van Hoesen said.
“It just matters that we win,” Burchhardt said.
Graber scored 12 of her 19 points in the third quarter and also came away with four steals. Saige Randolph and Meaghan Kienzle led Bishop Gibbons with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
ND-BG 12 8 14 19 — 53
Schalmont 17 22 25 7 — 71
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons scoring: Jackson 2-0-4, Kienzle 4-0-12, Megyeri 3-1-7, Randolph 5-4-15, Relyea 2-2-6, Tortello 3-0-7, Ford 0-2-2. Schalmont scoring: Hallberg 0-1-1, Graber 8-2-19, Fleming 4-0-12, Antoine 9-0-19, Cordy 1-0-3, Burchhardt 4-1-9, Lenehan 3-1-8. Scoring totals: Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons 19-9-53, Schalmont 29-5-71.