PLAINFiELD – Anna Jenkins was getting frustrated. The Plainfield East senior forward has been looking to step up and provide another scoring option for the Bengals in addition to star guard Lexi Sepulveda.
But the shots weren’t falling. Until Tuesday night, that is.
“I had a really bad game last game, and I told myself I can’t play like that again,” Jenkins said. “I had to come back, and this was the best I’ve ever played.”
Jenkins came through in a huge way, scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 rebounds as the visiting Bengals pulled away in the second half for a 76-43 win over Plainfield Central in the Southwest Prairie Conference opener for both teams.
Sepulveda scored 26 points and added 11 rebounds, while Gianna Thompson contributed nine points for Plainfield East (3-3, 1-0).
Aniela Machalski led Plainfield Central (1-3, 0-1) with 17 points and six rebounds. Na’Vayuh Junior scored seven points and Mia White chipped in six points.
Sepulveda, a Southern Indiana recruit, is a proven commodity for a Plainfield East team that has some holes to fill around her. She is averaging over 30 points a game.
But she knows she can’t do it alone.
Sepulveda wasn’t thrilled with her performance Tuesday as she struggled at times to finish at the basket, but she was ecstatic to see her teammates emerge on offense.
“Obviously, it wasn’t my best night, but having help and having others step up, it was really good to see,” Sepulveda said.
Jenkins was at the center of her all as she put the Bengals’ loss to Butler Prep behind her and came out motivated Tuesday, scoring 14 points in the first half.
“My dad was really mad at me, so that was kind of a motivator,” Jenkins said. “I took his advice and stayed by the basket and got a lot of rebounds. That was probably how I got half my points was on rebound putbacks.”
Sepulveda was impressed.
“She was just awesome,” Sepulveda said of Jenkins. “She was doing her thing. That’s what we expect from her. We see it in practice, we see it in games. To see her out there doing her thing was really awesome.”
Plainfield East coach Tony Waznonis was also happy to see Jenkins get her scoring going.
“Anna’s been wanting to get that,” Waznonis said. “She knows she’s been struggling a bit shooting. She’s been doing everything else - rebounding, getting hands on the ball and kind of leading our defense from the back. So, for her to get the ball in the hole, we’re happy for her.
“We know Lexi and Anna are going to lead us on the floor.”
Plainfield Central kept the game close in the first half as Machalski had a hot hand, scoring 13 points.
The Wildcats were within six points, down 30-24, with under three minutes to go in the first half before Plainfield East closed the half with a 12-5 surge to increase the edge to 42-29.
Waznonis was confident his girls could take over down the stretch as they dictated the tempo of the game with their ability to push the ball down the court in a hurry.
“We always have three things for our offense and defense to focus on and No. 1 for our offense was pace,” Waznonis said. “We knew that if we played four quarters with our pace like that, most teams are going to struggle. Credit to Central, for two quarters they were able to hang, but most teams are going to struggle with four quarters of that pace.”
Sepulveda expects that pace to continue to be one of her team’s biggest strengths.
“We’re kind of on the smaller side, but we play really fast,” she said. “We like to push the ball up in transition and we’re really scrappy on defense. I feel like our defense leads to our offense and it really gets us going.”