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Lineup shift doesn't slow down Hoxie girls

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

HOXIE -- Coach Shelly Hoyt has rarely had starting lineup changes during the Indians' current 63-game winning streak. Juniors Carly Heim and Lexi Schamberger have started since they were freshmen. Senior Kristina Farber is a four-year starter. Senior Gabi Spresser is a three-year starter. Sophomore Terran Hoyt entered the lineup last season.

"It's really important for the kids to come out with the same group, and know where they are supposed to be," Coach Hoyt said.

On Tuesday, Hoxie had its first deviation this season to the starting five when Schamberger was sick with the flu. Senior forward Natasha Allmer started in her place.

The Indians led 6-5 early, but went on a 16-0 run and eventually defeated Plainville 91-28 in a home victory. Hoxie, the two-time defending state champions and ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, Division I, moved to 16-0.

"Tasha could easily be starting - easily," Hoyt said. "She has just accepted that role that we will bring her in off the bench, and she is fine with it. She has got a great attitude, and I think that the chemistry between our top-seven and it's working into our entire team, is really coming along. It takes kids like Tasha that accept their roles for that to happen."

Plainville dropped to 5-12. Schamberger is expected to return for Friday's contest. Reserve Kelsey Kelch, out for the last couple weeks with a knee injury, won't return this year.

"She seemed fine yesterday, and then she didn't show up today," Spresser said of Schamberger. "She was going to try to make it back before lunch, but she didn't."

Spresser set her career-high with 29 points, one more than she scored her sophomore year against Oberlin. Allmer collected 10 points and five rebounds, while Heim tacked on 23 points, 10 rebounds and six steals. The Indians forced 39 turnovers, including 13 in the first quarter.

"That's always what we do," Spresser said. "We practice it so much. 'Catch high, finish high' is what (Coach) tells us. (Coach) says, 'If you think we have a steal, go,' so that's what we do."

Hoxie led 6-5 midway through the quarter before its trademark aggressive press led to 10 steals in the final five minutes and put the game out of reach.

"We have trouble handling the ball sometimes, and if you are ever going to beat a team like this, you have to be able to handle the ball," Plainville coach Ron Wolf said. "Not just for 24 minutes, but for 32 minutes. That's one thing that makes them so good -- their best offense is pressuring us 90 feet from the basket. You take away their fast break steals - it's still a 20-point game, but 20 points looks a lot better than 60."