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Opening night

The Southwestern and Park Tudor basketball teams prepare for tipoff on Tuesday at Park Tudor High School.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Park Tudor learned its lesson — Lexi Wilkins can shoot the basketball. 

Wilkins, a Southwestern junior guard, made five threes and finished with 17 points Tuesday in the Spartans' season opener at Park Tudor. The Panthers learned their lesson the hard way, allowing Wilkins to make all five of her makes through the first three quarters of play. The team held her to two points in the fourth but it was not enough after a slow start as the Spartans earned a 49-43 road win. Wilkins finished 5-for-8 from distance and made two free throws in the fourth quarter to help her team move to 1-0. 

Southwestern sophomore forward Lily Kerber was equally impressive and had a double-double, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds in a standout opening-night performance. Wilkins and Kerber combined for 27 of the team's 49 points but it was not a two-man show. 

SW junior forward Maggie Correll totaled five points and seven boards, junior point guard Abby Muck had six points and three rebounds and junior guard Trinity Tatlock finished with six points. Freshman guard McKinley Correll and sophomore forward Alison Muck added a spark off the bench and each finished with two points. 

McKinley Correll scored her basket just before the buzzer at the end of the first quarter as Southwestern led 19-7. 

"We had a great start to the game," Spartans' head coach Noah Stuckey said. "We were prepared for the first three or four possessions, and we knocked down the shots. We got good shots and made good shots.

"Park Tudor was very athletic."

Kerber had two offensive rebounds on one possession late in the fourth quarter, which helped her team hold on to the lead. Kerber was 5 of 8 from the field and also finished with three assists. She is quick and powerful and just what Southwestern needs down low after the loss of forwards Madison Van Gorden and Taylor Tatlock (2019 SW graduates). 

"She is going to be our rebounder this year," Stuckey said of Kerber. "She was going after the basketball. Then she had a big rebound late after a missed three, that was nice."

The Spartans were able to get off to a quick start with Wilkins and Maggie Correll draining shots from behind the arc early in the first quarter. Kerber gave the team a 8-0 lead with a strong drive to the hoop, but the Panthers would continue to hang around. 

Southwestern led 29-19 at halftime and 39-31 at the end of the third quarter. The Panthers, however, went on a 10-2 run in the third and continued to chip away at the lead in the fourth. Keber scored a basket with 35 seconds left in the game, which gave the Spartans a 47-42 advantage. The five-point lead was just enough as the Panthers were only able to score one point (at the line) the rest of the way. 

The Spartans finished the game 19-for-45 from the field, 5 of 9 from the free throw line and committed 10 turnovers (three in first half). 

"We missed some free throws and I also feel like we missed some lay ups," Stuckey said. "That is 10 or 12 points right there. Some of that comes as the season goes along. In the first game, the girls are (nervous) about everything."

Southwestern returns to action on Saturday at home against South Decatur. The Spartans are predicted to win, 52-36, according to John Harrell. 

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.