By Josh Brown
WEST MILTON — Coming into the season, Milton-Union knew it had to find a way to replace graduated 1,000-point scorer Brooke Falb’s production.
After Saturday’s season opener, the Bulldogs have a number of potential answers to that problem.
Three Bulldogs were in double figures Saturday afternoon and three more had six or more points as Milton-Union used its size to dominate the boards, its quickness to shut down Brookville’s counterattack and some long-range shooting to pull away in a 55-34 victory over the Blue Devils in its home opener Saturday.
“That’s something we’re excited about this year,” Milton-Union girls basketball coach Katie Roose said. “This is my third year here, and the last two we’ve relied heavily on Falb for scoring. For us to share the wealth today and get scoring from a lot of different girls, that was a great thing to see.”
And the opener couldn’t have followed a better route for the Bulldogs (1-0) Saturday — senior Michaela Fullmer got things started, freshman Kristen Dickison finished them off and everyone else contributed in between.
With both teams exhibiting some nerves early on, turning the ball over back and forth on their opening possessions, Fullmer — who hit three 3s in the game — got open and sank a bomb on the Bulldogs’ first shot attempt of the season, setting the tone the rest of the way.
“That was a big shot,” Roose said. “We talked to Peanut (Fullmer) a lot about how that is her skill set — she can get open and bury open 3s. She’s a senior leader, so for her to be able to step up and knock those down and get our offense started, that was a great start to her senior season.
“The girls came out ready to play. We talked a lot before the game about being patient in our offense, and we moved the ball and knocked down some open shots.”
Dickison hit a 3, as well, freeing up some room inside. Liz Renner scored a pair of buckets inside, and Taylor Jacobs hit a pair of free throws then converted a Liz Renner blocked shot into a jumper on the other end, and another score by Jacobs late in the quarter gave the Bulldogs a 17-9 lead after one.
Brookville (0-1) — which defeated Milton-Union 43-39 last season — got as close as three in the second quarter at 21-18 after a 3-pointer by Alayna Miller, but Fullmer answered with a 3 on the other end to give the Bulldogs some breathing room, and a bucket inside by Renner made it 26-18 at the half.
And in the third, Renner’s defense helped the Bulldogs extend that lead. Already the career leader at Milton-Union in blocked shots, Renner swatted away three early Blue Devils attempts inside — which forced Brookville to start settling for bad 3-point attempts. And thanks to Milton-Union’s size advantage inside, the Bulldogs were able to take advantage. Though they were outrebounded 12-10 in the third quarter, Brookville made no 2-point baskets in the third quarter and Milton-Union had a 44-27 overall advantage on the glass in the game.
“Even though they were chucking up 3s, I didn’t think we rebounded the ball very well in those situations. We’ll have to shore that up before we face Newton Monday,” Roose said. “But overall, we did a fantastic job on the boards. Our size is a good advantage to have, and it’ll give us some positive matchups this year.”
Miller, who led the Devils with 14 points, hit a 3 to end the third quarter, but the Bulldogs still held a 37-25 lead. And Madeline Brown hit a pair of 3s to start the fourth quarter, Dickison hit an open jumper and a 3 and Beyonce Bobbitt converted a couple of fast break opportunities, and Milton-Union was never threatened in the game.
Dickison led the Bulldogs with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, Fullmer added 11 points and Jacobs had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Renner finished with eight points, four rebounds and four blocked shots, Bobbit had seven points and Madeline Brown had six points. Olivia Brown added one point and six rebounds and Bri Stone had eight rebounds.
“As a freshman, Kristen handled her first varsity game very well,” Roose said. “She was able to handle the ball and knock down shots. And with Liz and Bri and Olivia inside, us knocking down those 3s (seven in the game) opened up the post a little for them.”
Jordann Gudorf — who led the Devils past the Bulldogs with 18 points and 11 rebounds in last year’s game — was held to nine points and two rebounds, while Bailey Pennington chipped in seven points.
Milton-Union remains at home Monday night, taking on Newton.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.