By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Most likely, when teams come into a game with nearly identical records, as did the Gilmour Academy Lancers and Edgewood Warriors Wednesday night at Warrior Gym, you might expect a tight contest.
Levels of competition and experience make a huge difference, though, and the Lancers had a decided edge in both areas. The results were predictable, as Gilmour jumped out to a 25-0 lead until the Warriors’ Gia Saturday hit a 3-pointer with 3:11 left in the second quarter in rolling to a 63-15 non-conference win over Edgewood.
The toughness of Gilmour’s schedule plays in big part in matchups such as this, and coach Bob Beutel remains positive about his team, in spite of sickness and injury, which has plagued it all season.
“Going into this season, I had ideas that this had the potential to be the best team we’ve had here at Gilmour since I’ve been here,” the veteran of 37 years of coaching split between North and Gilmour said. “There have been times when we couldn’t even practice, though, with so many players either ill or hurt. Jess (Janota) is having back problems and can’t go full go yet, we have 3 other players out with concussions, so we’re starting 3 freshmen like we did tonight.
“There’s a lot of talent there, for sure, but it’s been rough. We’ve had to reschedule games several times. Jess is just back and hasn’t played or practiced since Dec. 10. (Sydney) Diedrich, though, has really stepped up for us. She’s a passive kid who just has come in and done good things in every phase of the game.”
Diedrich, a freshman, scored only 2 points but snared 8 rebounds and had 3 assists and did a good job defensively when the Warriors got the ball inside for scoring attempts. That didn’t happen much in the first half as Edgewood shot just 1 of 21 from the floor.
The presence of 6-foot-3 senior post Janota had a lot to do with that, but most of it was mental effects on the Warriors (5-6).
“Our first 3 or 4 possessions of the game got us off track in a hurry tonight,” first-year Edgewood coach Steve Kray said. “Then, all of a sudden, the girls see themselves down 15-0 and they start to think they can’t score. Things were there for us, but we just didn’t seize the opportunities. We sure didn’t set the nets on fire, but we did have our chances. I told the girls that this is probably the best team we’ll see this season.
“(Gilmour) plays a lot, they play a tough schedule, and games like this provide us a learning opportunity to get better. I’m proud of the fact, and I told the girls in the locker room after the game, that we played hard all night long with a great team. (Gilmour) has made some great runs in the tournament, and we battled them all the way tonight.”
The big edge in experience for Gilmour (6-4) came from seniors Janota, Kelsey Dugger, and Kelly Harrington. They led a defense that forced 10 first-period turnovers for the Warriors, cutting off passing lanes and anticipating passes and shots a split-second quicker than Edgewood.
Freshman Emily Kelley was the benefactor of the experience in leading the Lancers with 20 points. Sophomore Marisa Finazzo tallied 12 while stealing the ball 5 times and dishing out 5 assists, and with Harrington putting in 11 points and Janota, in limited action because of back problems, put home 9 while grabbing 9 rebounds, then adding in Diedrich’s solid game, and it’s easy to see how strong the Lancers are.
Edgewood, however, was not without positives in this contest.
Despite making only 6 of 47 shots (12.8 percent), paced by 4 points each from Saturday, Taylor Diemer and Cortney Humphrey, the differences in reaction time between the teams proved to be obvious.
A strong second half, especially in rebounding, gave the Warriors a 42-35 edge on the boards after Gilmour dominated the first half. Humphrey snared 13 to lead her team.
“We didn’t play well tonight, we didn’t shoot well, and that is usually the case when we lose,” Kray said. “We knew coming in it was a tall task, and we can learn a lot from this game.”
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.