IOLA — The Labette Cardinals debuted as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation on Wednesday by throttling Allen 86-38.
Labette’s defense, including a press, suffocated Allen throughout the night as the Cardinals’ opponents shot just 28% from the field.
“We really just wanted to shore up some things on defense and make that our first priority,” Rolls said. “I told the girls if we did that, good things would happen. They took that challenge and did a great job. That’s probably the least amount of fouls I’ve ever had in a game with a team, especially when we’re pressing for 30 minutes.”
Labette’s offense shot 47.4% (36-of-76) from the field. Ishuana Hunter, making her first appearance for the Cardinals, scored 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“She plays really hard and is a great athlete,” Rolls said. “When you couple that with her work ethic, it’s a guarantee she’ll be able to contribute. She touched almost every stat except blocks and only played 20 minutes. So that’s a really good night for her.”
Tamiah Robinson shined on both sides of the ball, scoring 17 points while registering seven steals and three assists.
“She can do it all and that’s what she did tonight,” Rolls said. “Allen ran zone and she did a great job keeping us on pace and getting us into the right spots.”
Nia Jordan added 13 points and eight rebounds, five of them on the offensive glass for the Cardinals.
“She played the most minutes and dominated,” Rolls said. “When the guards don’t box her out, she went and got five offensive boards. Those are huge for our team.”
Adji Mbaye and Hallie Reed each led Allen with two points.
Rolls acknowledged that Labette’s No. 1 ranking was a product of last year’s success, which included a KJCCC title and a berth into the NJCAA Division II National Tournament, which was canceled due to COVID-19.
“The girls cared, but at the same time they knew it was a product of last year’s group said.” Rolls said. “Now the girls want to carry that flame this year. They see what the standard is and what to keep it up.”
Labette resumes its season on Saturday with a matchup against Neosho County.
“We want to be more disciplined than we were today,” Rolls said. “We want to stay in the upward motion. If we can keep rebounding well and defending, we’ll have a chance to keep winning.”
No. 1 Labette 86, Allen 38
Labette: 20 26 24 16 — 86
Allen: 9 7 11 11 — 38
Labette: Brianna Randolph 9, Jordine Moody 3, Jayla Smith 9, Nia Jordan 13, Nicole Ajayi 9, Tamiah Robinson 17, Ariah Powell 2, Ishuana Hunter 22, Wilnie Joseph 2
Allen: Hallie Reed 12, Yasmine Garcia 3, KJ Moore 3, Melody Wilfong 8, Adji Mbaye 12