BARDWELL - A new outlook on basketball has changed St. Mary senior Casey Kupper.
She admits to being high-strung during games last season, allowing a poor performance to impact her. But a conversation with Lady Vikings coach Staci Averill helped her realize the need to relax and become a better leader for her teammates.
Of course, Kupper hasn't needed to worry with performances like those from Thursday night. She scored a season-high 37 points to lead St. Mary to a 65-31 road win against Carlisle County. Her strong performance forced the mercy-rule running clock through much of the second half.
"I knew I had a lot (of points) because Alex (Durbin) was feeding me so many great passes, and they ended up in some good shot choices for me," Kupper said. "I wasn't too surprised, but when (the coaches) told me how many, I just wasn't ready for that."
Kupper had 33 first-half points, finding ways to score even on bad plays.
With about eight seconds before halftime, she passed the ball to Durbin as she set a screen, and it seemed time would run out on the half without a final shot. But Durbin passed as Kupper cut to the basket, and she made a lay-up. Kupper responded with an easy smile.
That was how much of her night went.
"She has really worked on her game a lot over the summer and the last few years," Averill said. "It's her time to shine. She's an unbelievable cutter. She's one of the best I've ever coached."
Durbin proved a strong second option for the Lady Vikings (8-1) with 19 points and she dominated the boards with 16 rebounds.
Kupper's previous season high had been 33, a figure she matched in just 16 minutes. It would also be more than the Lady Comets (3-4) scored the entire game.
Carlisle County's lone lead came at 4-2. The Lady Vikings went on a 17-6 run to close the first half with a 21-8 lead and scored 26 second-quarter points for a 47-13 margin at halftime.
Kupper and Durbin had all of those points.
St. Mary gained the 35-point lead necessary for a running clock after scoring the first two points of the second half. From there, Kupper and Durbin helped extend the lead before coming out in the fourth quarter with the game in hand.
"It makes me happy being a senior and kind of going out like this," Kupper said. "It makes me more ready to carry on with the season and take on other teams because I feel more confident."
St. Mary 21 47 59 65
Carlisle 8 13 23 31
ST. MARY - Durbin 19, Kupper 37, Word 3, Gipson 2, Meredith 2, Higgins 2, Koenig, Bratton, Shockley, Osterhaus, Lurtz, Black.
Field goals 25. 3-pointers 1 (Word). Free throws 12/15. Fouls 12. Record 8-1.
CARLISLE COUNTY - M. Thomas 1, Sams 4, Case 6, Hooper 9, H. Edging 6, Hicks 2, M. Edging 3, Garrett, Rudd, K. Thomas. Stephens, Smith.
Field goals 10. 3-pointers 1 (Case). Free throws 8/20. Fouls 13. Record 3-4.
Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.