The 6-1 senior drained a game-high 27 points and hauled in a game-high eight rebounds to lead the Lady Lakers to a 49-36 Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference win over host Union here Monday night.
"Offensively it took us a little while to get going," SHS coach Troy Fougerousse said. "We came down and kind of ran the offense through Pilant and everybody else kind of got what they got."
Fougerousse said it was standard fare for his team.
"Everybody knows that we have to do that, we have to run through Kelsey," Fougerousse said. "Then that gets everybody else open shots.
"When we come down and don't look for her sometimes, that's when we struggle. We started slow but once we got it rolling we did fine."
Pilant worked her way through a trio of Union defenders on her way to the second-highest point total of her career, just three shy of her standard.
"She's a handful inside," Fougerousse said. "We've got some other kids out on the floor that can step up and hit the three with (Sierra) Hudson, (Megan) Phipps and (Kelsey) Fulford. So if we can spread it out and be patient with the basketball we can get some back cuts for our guards and get some wide open threes."
Hudson finished the game with 10 points while Phipps and Fulford closed out the night with six to account for all of Shakamak's tally.
"A lot of the time we hope we can get Pilant isolated down there and a lot of times it seemed like she had two or even three girls on her and she was still able to score."
Union coach Benji Boyd tried to counter Pilant with Autumn Secrest, Cali Hale and Kolbi Reynolds. All the while forcing the outside shooters for Shakamak to do the majority of the work.
"We knew we would have our hands full with Pilant and we did," Boyd said. "I told them that 5-6 can't guard her and I was banking on our perimeter players to outplay the perimeter and not let them get it to her so easily -- we didn't contain their perimeter well enough."
For three quarters, the Lady Bulldogs appeared ready to make a challenge. They were within striking distance at the first stop trailing 10-9 and still within sight at the half trailing 27-20.
A third quarter that saw both teams limited in offense and even at 6-6 left Union still with a chance for the win.
"Sometimes it's our defensive intensity and sometimes we walk a fine line there," Fougerousse said about not being able to deliver a double-digit lead until the fourth quarter. "We don't want to be so intense on defense that we're giving up drives to the basket.
"But then again we don't want to stand flat footed and that was some of it, we were back on our heels."
Being down 33-26 at the final stop was just the first piece of bad news for Boyd. He lost point guard Hallie Smith to an apparent knee injury early in the frame and from there it was mostly an uphill battle.
Pilant took complete control of the inside and wreaked havoc elsewhere. She recorded 10 points, collected two of her game-high four steals and dragged down half of her rebounds. She also blocked a Union shot during the stanza.
"Would we do something different, I don't know," Boyd said. "That was the right way to play them, we're just going to have to play better on the outside."
The Lady Lakers improved to 6-12 overall and evened their league mark at 4-4 while the Lady Bulldogs fell to 5-10 and 2-6.
There was no jv game at the request of UHS.
Union travels to North Vermillion for a noon, varsity-only contest on Saturday while Shakamak pays a visit to Eminence on Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. varsity-only game.
SHAKAMAK (49) -- Kelsey Fulford 3-6 0-0 6, Kayla Gallagher 0-0 0-0 0, Kelsey Pilant 12-19 3-7 27, Megan Phipps 3-14 0-0 6, Sierra Hudson 4-6 0-0 10, Kiera Samm 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-45 3-7 49.
UNION (36) -- Autumn Secrest 2-8 2-2 6, Kolbi Reynolds 2-6 2-2 6, Korissa Jobe 3-6 1-1 8, Hallie Smith 0-5 2-6 2, Hannah Sullivan 3-15 0-0 7, Cali Hale 2-5 1-2 5, Conner Kendall 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 13-47 8-13 36.
Shakamak 10 17 6 16 -- 49
Union 9 11 6 10 -- 36
3-point shooting -- Shakamak 2-5 (Hudson 2-3, Phipps 0-1, Fulford 0-1), Union 2-12 (Jobe 1-3, Sullivan 1-5, Smith 0-3, Kendall 0-1). Rebounds -- Shakamak 32 (Pilant 8), Union 30 (Reynolds 6). Steals -- Shakamak 9 (Pilant 4), Union 3 (Secrest, Smith, Sullivan). Blocks -- Shakamak 3 (Pilant 2), Union none. Turnovers -- Shakamak 12, Union 14. Total fouls -- Shakamak 13, Union 5. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls -- none. No junior varsity.