By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
The Chardon Hilltoppers and Geneva Eagles both use high pressure defense to get opportunities on offense. The only basic difference comes down to who is scoring the points.
The Hilltoppers get them from several sources on a regular basis, while the Eagles this season have been getting the bulk of theirs from sophomore guard Lindsey Mayle.
True to form for both squads, they did what they had to do Thursday night with one major exception. The Eagles stuffed the Hilltopper offense most of the time, but nobody was able to shut down Mayle. Her 30-point effort on the night was the key factor for Geneva as they claimed a solid come from behind 57-48 Premier Athletic Conference win at home.
“We knew coming in that they would pressure the ball a lot and use a lot of double teams,” Mayle said. “We try to fuel a lot of our offense off of that pressure other teams throw at us, and we did a good job shooting the ball tonight.”
In a game of short spurts that went back and forth for much of the night, it finally came down to a 9-0 run for the Eagles early in the fourth period that turned the tide of the contest.
A trio of Lindsey Lyons free throws had turned a 39-37 Geneva lead into a 40-39 edge for the Hilltoppers (7-4, 5-3 in PAC). The lead was erased when Emily Ball took a pass from Alyssa Scott at the top of the key with 4:52 left to play. The score reached 48-40 when Morgan Tropf split a pair of free throws with 4:07 left. After Rachel Tusick scored a hoop to cut it to 48-43, a 7-0 run ignited by a Ball 3-pointer put the finishing touch on a tough win.
Chardon usually spreads its scoring around, and they did in this game. However, a stingy defense keyed on Lyons and Spear allowed Tusick to reach double digits with 10 points. All of them came in the second half as she tallied the first 6 points of the third period to give her team a brief 30-26 lead.
An Annaliesa Fistek trey stopped that spurt, and the teams battled back and forth until the trio of Lyons free shots got Geneva going again.
Spear was limited to 8 points on the night, with 5 coming in the last 3 minutes of the game. Lyons had but a single hoop and those 3 free shots. Much of the credit for that goes to the Eagle defense, sparked by Mayle as well.
“Lindsey defended Kahrin the last time they played,” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “She did a good job, and did again tonight. Shutting down Spear and Lyons is important to beating Chardon because of their great balance. The way we came out in the third period was frustrating, but the girls responded well and showed a lot of fight down the line to the end.”
Mayle’s 30 points led the way, but key contributions came from Fistek, who tallied 13, and Ball with 7.
“This was a really tight game both ways,” Chardon coach Dave Munson said. “I thought we were in good shape when Lindsey hit those 3 free throws to give us a 40-39 lead, but Geneva came right back with a long run. It all came down to them making shots, and we didn’t.”
Geneva (6-6, 5-3 in PAC) had turnover problems in the early part of the game, giving the ball up 6 times in the first period as they fell behind after one, 16-12. When it did get the ball into range, it shot it well. A 5-9 effort in that first period led to a 19-39 effort for the game, keyed by Mayle’s 10-15.
The Hilltoppers were not as efficient, netting 17-46 for 36.9 percent.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.