Chaz Hardin takes flight after a foul in McIntosh’s win. (Photo by Adam Hagy www.adamhagyphotography.com)
Savannah Soles gets to the hoop with Michaela Cushing on defense. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

Score round two of the Battle of the Bubble for McIntosh. The Chiefs scored a resounding sweep of Friday night’s rematch on their home court, picking up key region momentum in the process.

The Lady Chiefs (15-4, 5-3 in region) opened the night with a tough, defensive-minded effort for a 40-23 win over Starr’s Mill (10-9, 3-5).

“When you play a team a second time, you make adjustments. (Starr’s Mill) did some things differently defensively than what we saw last time, but we were prepared for it,” said McIntosh coach David Dowse. “I thought in small chunks we took advantage and executed the game plan. We showed some patience.”

Dowse credited a number of players for key contributions.

“Defensively, I thought Kennedi Miller was terrific,” he said of his guard who locked down Starr’s Mill’s promising freshman Alice Anne Hudson. “I thought Anna Muh had quite a few nice rebounds. She gave us a little bit of the physical presence that we’ve been looking for in there, and she’s solid with the ball.”

McIntosh opened the scoring with Savannah Soles banking in a shot. Starr’s Mill followed with four straight, two from Kelly Kozusko and three from Alice Anne Hudson for a 5-4 lead. Maddie Emmet pushed the Chiefs back in front with a jumper, and her team never looked back. DeLayne Rotolo hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 9-5 after one quarter.

The Chiefs kept pushing, building their lead to 16-8 midway through the second with buckets from Rylee Calhoun, Muh, and Soles. Alyssa Angelo scored a pair as the Panthers cut back within 16-11 at halftime.

McIntosh raced out of the break with a 6-0 run keyed by four-straight points from Mikayla Rivers. Starr’s Mill tried to stop the bleeding with a Michaela Cushing dish to Kozusko for two, but the Chiefs had more in the barrel, Calhoun burying a pair of treys. Spencer Dawson hit a jumper at the buzzer to send her Panthers into the fourth trailing 28-15.

The Chiefs kept gunning to start the fourth, Rotolo and Soles each dropping a three to push the lead past 20 points. Starr’s Mill would chip away a bit, but still fall 40-23.

Rylee Calhoun led McIntosh with 11 points. DeLayne Rotolo posted 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The Lady Chiefs followed up with a 52-47 win over Lanier on Saturday. Against Lanier, Rotolo tallied 19 points, Calhoun posted 12, and Savannah Soles added 12.

The McIntosh boys (9-10, 5-3) got revenge for a loss to the Panthers (12-7, 4-4) from early December with a 57-45 win.

“The first time we met them, we definitely hadn’t jelled yet as a team. Now, we’ve gotten to the point where we understand our roles,” said McIntosh coach Jason Eisele. “We played with a little more composure than we have and a lot of intensity. When you get a team of young guys to play with composure and intensity, good things are going to happen.”

The early stages of the game were a back-and-forth struggle for control. The Panthers’ Zach Pina opened the scoring, and McIntosh’s Will Stowman got the hoop and scored with contact. Joseph Cummings scored two in the paint for the Chiefs, and Nate Allison did the same for Starr’s Mill.

A Mitch Maxwell bucket and a Cummings layup pushed the Chiefs ahead 8-7, and they would not trail again. Naj Ashley-Emory drained a 3-pointer, Stowman notched a three-point play, and Bruce Carpenter finished with a steal and layup as the Chiefs grabbed a 16-9 lead after one quarter.

Fierce defensive pressure kept the Panther offense from finding its rhythm, while the Chiefs kept clicking.

“We don’t have the size to match up with them, so we definitely wanted to put pressure on them in the full court. I think that’s our strength at times,” said Eisele. “That’s the guys buying into it. You can draw it up and show them what to do, but the guys have to buy into it. When they do that and they trust each other, I think they have a pretty high ceiling.”

Stowman sliced to the hoop for a reverse layup in front of the Starr’s Mill student section and shushed them. Garrett LeClaire added a bucket, and Chaz Hardin went for two as they held a 29-17 advantage at halftime.

Nick Karli opened the second half with a basket for the Panthers, but the Chiefs followed with seven-straight points, including a Hardin three and a Carpenter steal and dish to Stowman for a layup, to extend their lead to 36-21. Chase Sands stopped the run with a bucket, and Drew Hudson converted an assist from Allison as they got back within five. After another Chief run, Pina added two 3-pointers, and Sands scored on a tip-in at the buzzer to make it a 45-35 margin going into the fourth.

James Harris gave the Panthers a spark, scoring four straight to start the fourth and cut the deficit to single-digits. The Chiefs answered, Hardin stealing the ball and passing it to Carpenter who dished to Cole Guenther for a two-handed dunk. Ben Bryant gave the Chiefs their own spark, setting up one bucket by tipping a pass, scoring one of his own, and then drawing a key charge on the defensive end.

“Ben had a great game. He did a great job,” praised Eisele.

McIntosh iced the game with a full-court pass from Hardin to Cummings for an easy two. Hardin dribbled out the last 45 seconds in the 57-45 win.

Joseph Cummings and Will Stowman led the way with 13 points apiece, and Chaz Hardin added 12 points. Garrett LeClaire added 5 rebounds.

“Garrett had some huge rebounds there late to kind of seal it for us,” said Eisele. “We have a lot of guys who are contributing. We’ve got some depth. It’s always a luxury to have that.”

The Chiefs tacked on another win Saturday, pounding Lanier 68-37. Against Lanier, Cummings poured in 20 points.