HARRISON TWP. — Tony Phillips took a successful first step into uncharted territory Friday night.
Phillips coached his Carlisle High School girls basketball team to a season-opening 49-20 victory over Twin Valley South at Northridge in the Cross County Conference/Southwestern Buckeye League Challenge.
It was his head coaching debut and the first girls basketball game he’s ever coached in, having spent seven seasons in the Tipp City Bethel boys program.
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“I couldn’t be happier,” said Phillips, a 2007 Bethel graduate. “I’m still testing the waters here and there, but you treat the girls pretty much the same as the boys. Honestly, I tend to get on the girls a little harder than I would the boys. It’s just something different. But I love where we’re headed.”
Phillips got the job in June after Randy Glover chose to end his 11-year tenure at the Indians’ helm. Carlisle athletic director John Augustine used to be the AD at Bethel, and he had a very positive relationship with Phillips.
“I just graduated with my master’s degree from Dayton, and I was looking to move spots,” Phillips said. “I was accepted to be the fourth-grade teacher at Carlisle, and once John knew I got the job, he’s like, ‘Hey, do you want to be the coach?’ And I said, ‘I’d love to.’ That’s how I ended up coaching the girls.”
The Indians gave him a decisive first win by burying TVS in the middle two quarters. Carlisle led 14-7 at the first stop, then outpointed the Panthers 33-9 over the next 16 minutes.
Abby Erisman paced the Indians with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Kaylee Lawson had nine points and Caitlyn Stewart added eight, while Jillian McIntosh and Kaylee Dingee contributed six boards apiece.
“We needed to put in everything we had. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy if we thought it was going to be easy,” said Erisman, a senior forward. “We always say the score is 0-0. That’s kind of how we go about it.
“It was definitely a confidence booster, and I think our team really needed it. We’re real young and have lots of freshmen and sophomores playing varsity, so it was a good way to start. I feel like we’re clicking pretty well.”
Erisman and Lawson combined for 19 points in the first half as Carlisle used an up-tempo mentality to take a 37-10 lead into the break. The Panthers piled up 17 of their 21 turnovers during the first two periods.
“I knew coming in it was a winnable game for us, but being the first game of the season, each team is going to be excited,” Phillips said. “We had to come out with energy and establish our dominance early, and I think we did that.
“What I want us to do defensively is pick up the pace, apply pressure. I like to play help defense quite a bit, so we constantly have to be on the move, head on a swivel, that kind of thing. Once we get the ball, our motion offense is tailored toward guards and bigs alike. We set a lot of ball screens, we like to move, and it’s a lot of reading the defense as well.”
Twin Valley South got seven points and 11 rebounds from Mackenzie Neal, but managed just six field goals on the night. The Panthers were 8-of-24 from the foul line.
“Honestly, from the beginning of the season, I’ve said it’s all about growth,” said TVS coach Lindsey Cole, making her debut at the varsity level. “From the second to the third quarter, we had growth, and we continued that from the third to the fourth quarter. That’s really what I’m looking for at this point.
“We knew they would be a tough team. I thought we came out strong, and then we kind of let up. We weren’t talking through picks. We weren’t doing a lot of the little stuff. We finally started doing those things as the night progressed, but obviously it was too late.”
Northridge defeated Tri-County North 35-27 in Friday’s second game. The Challenge will conclude Saturday when Carlisle meets TCN at 6 p.m. and Northridge plays Twin Valley South at 7:30 p.m.
Erisman said the Indians have accepted the coaching change in their program and have done their best to absorb the new system.
“This year, it’s really like gun and go. Last year, it was kind of like calm and steady,” Erisman said. “Obviously we miss our old coach, but we also really like our new coach too.”
She said Carlisle is eager to make some noise in the SWBL Buckeye Division.
“As always, the goal is go to state. With a lot of heart and effort, yes, that’s possible,” Erisman said. “But a more realistic goal is to win the SWBL. That’s our first goal.”
Twin Valley South 7-3-6-4—20
TWIN VALLEY SOUTH (0-1): Taylor Clark 1 0 2; Taylor Bowers 0 2 2; Madison Johnson 2 1 5; Mackenzie Neal 1 5 7; Evelyn Woodgeard 1 0 2; Maegen Carson 1 0 2. Totals: 6-8-20
CARLISLE (1-0): Caitlyn Stewart 3 0 8; Abby Erisman 5 2 12; Abby Goodpaster 2 0 5; Kaylee Dingee 2 0 4; Kaylee Lawson 3 2 9; Rylie Cottrell 1 0 2; Emma Riley 1 0 2; Jillian McIntosh 2 1 5; Sidney Morris 1 0 2. Totals: 20-5-49
3-pointers: C 4 (Stewart 2, Goodpaster, Lawson)