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Argylls roll in opener behind their freshmen

BUCKET: Madison-Grant freshman Azmae Turner goes up for two points against Wes-Del’s Izabella Mitchell in the Argylls’ season-opening, 48-20 win Wednesday night in Fairmount.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

FAIRMOUNT — Cool as a cucumber, Madison-Grant freshman Azmae Turner made her varsity girls’ basketball debut Wednesday evening seem like just another day at the office.

Turner’s all-around play helped a young Argylls team roll past visiting Wes-Del, another team in transition, 48-20 in their season debut. Turner finished with 11 points, four assists, three rebounds and at least three steals to fill out the stat sheet.

“She’s played basketball a long time and she’s been coached growing up,” first-year Madison-Grant coach Brandon Bradley said. “What I was impressed with, you can have all the stats you want, but she came out here with zero nerves from playing eighth grade ball a year ago and now you’re playing varsity basketball.”

Bradley also made his debut with the Argylls and has quickly installed his high-pressure half-court man defense that helped force Wes-Del into 31 turnovers. The Warriors also shot 22.6 percent from the floor (7-of-31) and and scored just three points in the fourth quarter.

Turner, a slender 5-foot-8, flashed good passing skills setting up her post players around the basket and also was disruptive in the passing lanes, often knocking the ball loose that led to steals and turnovers. In the second quarter Turner made two steals and scored on breakaway layups as the Argylls raced out to a 23-10 halftime lead.

While she was in middle school a year ago, Turner said her experiences coming up through the ranks made her varsity debut feel very comfortable.

“I played with the varsity as a whole for three years in the summer and we have a connection and know what our strengths are on the court,” Turner said. “I think I bring effort and intensity and positivity and non-selfishness to the team.”

Gracey Fox, a 5-11 freshman, also made a good initial impression with seven points and three rebounds despite battling illness. Bradley said Turner and Fox were perhaps the Argylls’ two most composed players on the court.

“She didn’t start tonight because she had stomach flu (Tuesday) so she left school and was not feeling well,” Fox said. “When she got here she said she was better — she’s still obviously drained a little bit — but both Turner and Fox have got good basketball IQs. ... I thought they were two of the least nervous kids out there.

Madison-Grant went into the game having three players with varsity experience and sophomore Zoey Barnett finished with a game-high 14 points. Kayla Comer, a 6-foot post, had four points and 10 rebounds, and Blayklee Stitt had four points and a pair of assists.

McKayla Sutton, the Argylls’ only senior player, contributed six points and four rebounds.

“Just with having a new coach and a whole new system has changed our game up a little bit,” said Barnett, who was 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-10 at the free throw line. “We’re really more intense on the defensive side than we’ve been in the last few years.

“We’re already making improvements and it’s going to be pretty good this year, better than it was last year,” Barnett added. “I feel like we have a bright future.”

Bradley wants to play aggressive, half-court man defense because he believes it puts the Argylls at an advantage.

“We’re not going to change things much,” he said. “ Honestly, in 2A girls’ basketball there’s not a lot of teams that play aggressive defense in the half court. ... If we’re going to be strong on the ball we got to have help on the drive and got to have backside rotation, and I thought those two things were good against Wes-Del.”

Madison-Grant shot 42 percent from the floor (16-of-38), 61.5 percent from the foul line (16-of-26) and held a 29-24 rebounding advantage.

Izabella Mitchell led Wes-Del with nine points.

Madison-Grant hosts Tipton at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.