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Delone Catholic girls adjust and win after injuries

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Losing a starter to a season-ending injury changes the tenor of a team. But the Delone Catholic girls' basketball team has adjusted.

For the second season in a row, starter Jill Novak's season ended with a torn ACL, this time suffered in a Dec. 20 game against Littlestown. At that point, Novak was averaging 12 points per game, and the Squirettes had won all five of their games.

While a team never wants to lose a four-year starter, the rest of Delone's front-court players have bumped up their scoring averages since Novak's injury.

Freshman Maddie Clabaugh moved into Novak's spot in the starting lineup and went from 4.8 points per game -- when Novak played -- to 7.2 points per game.

Sophomore Bradi Zumbrum was scoring 9.2 points per game and has upped her production to 11 points per game, while junior Catie Apgar went from 6.4 points per game to 7.5.

"We were happy to have Jill back to start the season, but we're used to not having her in there," Delone coach Gerry Eckenrode said. "We didn't have her most of last season, and we played all summer without her, too."

"Bradi, Maddie and Catie have all played well since Jill has gone out," said Eckenrode, whose team has gone 6-3 since the lineup changed.

The Squirettes are also without sophomore Riley Vingsen, who was in line to start at point guard after being a key contributor off the bench a year ago. Vingsen tore an ACL during a summer league game.

Those ball-handling duties have fallen to Elise Knobloch, a 5-foot-8 senior who has done an admirable job this season.

"Elise is not the prettiest basketball player in the world by any stretch," Eckenrode said. "But I'd take her in my foxhole any time. She's mentally tough, she'll guard anyone we ask her to, and she'll do anything that we ask her to."

Coming off Saturday's 19-point loss to New Oxford, the Squirettes on Monday gave a 48-32 beating to a strong Greencastle-Antrim squad. The Blue Devils came into the game at 10-2 and sixth in the Class 5A district power rankings.

Delone (11-3) controlled Monday's game nearly from start to finish, using its size edge in out-rebounding the Blue Devils, 39-29.

"You will struggle to match their size and strength," Greencastle coach Mike Rhine said. "You have to box them out on every shot, and we didn't do that."

Zumbrum led the way for Delone with 15 points and pulled down eight boards, while Clabaugh put in nine points and had 10 boards and Apgar scored five points to go with nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

The Squirettes also held Holy Cross recruit Jenay Faulkner to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.

"I'm pretty happy with this win," Eckenrode said. "Our execution was much better than it was against New Oxford."