By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
Jeff Compan wanted his Pymatuning Valley girls to come out with intensity on Thursday. And that’s exactly what they did.
The undefeated Lakers started quickly and built a large halftime lead to help them to a 63-38 win at Ledgemont.
“We had great intensity at the start,” Compan, who pointed out that his team hadn’t played in a week and a half, said. “And that’s one of the things that we talked about. We wanted to come out with a lot of aggressiveness at the beginning. We thought if we could take the game to them, that we would have a good chance to roll with this one.”
“They’re a good team; I knew they were a good team,” Ledgemont coach Pat Sidley said. “With the weather, not being able to practice, and I’m down in numbers, I can’t assimilate that pressure in practice.”
Pymatuning Valley (11-0, 5-0 in the Northeastern Athletic Conference) pressured its hosts into 18 first-half turnovers, 13 coming in the initial quarter. At the same time, it gave the ball away just three times before the break while passing crisply and effectively and moving well to the hoop.
As a result, the Lakers, ranked third in Ohio in Division III, ran off the game’s first 6 points, and followed that with runs of 8, 11 and 10 without Ledgemont (6-6, 1-4) scoring more than 2-consecutive points. As a result, PV held a 35-6 lead on a layup by Megan Stech (16 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocked shots), and went to the locker room ahead 37-8.
With the help of another 8-point streak, the Lakers pushed the margin to 35 at 45-10 and 47-12, and never again let the Redskins get closer than 25 points.
“We had great intensity for the first 16 minutes,” Compan said. “And then they just simply outplayed us in the second half. They were super-aggressive. And when we stopped trapping, we had a lot of trouble with them today. Coach Sidley did a great job with them in that second half. They didn’t roll over and die.
“We live and die on our pressure, be it fullcourt or halfcourt. We just talked about it in the locker room afterwards — that we’ve got to be able to still defend people when we’re not trapping. I was really disappointed with our defense in the second half tonight.”
“Once they saw (the defensive pressure) and they adjusted and adapted to it, I think that we did pretty well in the second half,” Sidley said. “The first half was an eye-opener for us.”
Geena Gabriel had 13 points, 7 assists and 2 blocks, Kelsea Brown 13 points, 9 boards, 4 steals and 2 blocks, Abby Hamilton 11 points and Rebecca Dillon 5 assists for PV.
“(Stech) is a quick post, which allows her to get some easy looks, because she’ll generally beat the other post down the floor,” Compan said. “She did a nice job of getting in there tonight, and she was just beating them down the floor and getting some easy looks.
“Geena sees the floor really well. She’s a 4-year starter at the point. She’s a coach herself out there. She’s usually right on tune with what I’m thinking. We’re lucky to have her.
Alivia Sidley had 14 points, Taylor Erskine 11 points and 9 rebounds, Megan Ritts 7 caroms and Sarah Luoma and Carysa Cantwell 3 blocks each for Ledgemont.
“I’m proud of my girls,” Pat Sidley said. “They’re battling hard, playing hard still. They’re short on numbers, but they’re big on their hearts.”
PV blocked a total of 12 shots, although the Redskins swatted away 8 themselves. For the game, the Lakers led the turnover battle 24-10 and shot 42.9 percent (27-of-63) from the floor.
“We took care of the ball,” Compan said. “I tell the girls I’d rather see a missed shot than a bad pass for a turnover. Megan and Kelsea are such good offensive rebounders that if we at least get a shot off, we’ve got a chance to score. We don’t have a chance if we’re turning it over.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.