By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
PAINESVILLE TOWNSHIP —
With his team down a point and inbounding the ball at midcourt with five seconds left on the clock, Ledgemont coach Pat Sidley knew exactly what play he wanted to run. Riverside coach Darren Jones knew what play the Redskins were going to run, too, and forced them into Plan B.
Alivia Sidley drove the lane and put up a shot in traffic, but Kirsten Ponsart got just enough of the ball without making contact with Sidley to thwart Ledgemont’s comeback bid and give the Beavers a 41-40 victory Friday night at Community Fieldhouse.
“We were looking for the lob there,” Pat Sidley said. “I thought (Jones) would be more aggressive. We were looking for a lob and a backscreen. If we didn’t get that, I wanted the ball in Alivia’s hand. She’s a good driver. She can score and draw a foul. We didn’t get the call.
“It was still a good game.”
That lob had been effective most of the night for the Redskins (0-1), so Jones had his defense ready to see it again.
“I anticipated the lob,” Jones said. “I wanted them to switch on everything. That lob worked the whole game. It’s shame on me if we let it work again.
“That’s their bread-and-butter play and they were going back to it.”
The Redskins had trailed, 38-24, with 5:36 left in the game, but used an 12-0 run in which six different players scored over the next 4:15 to get within a bucket at 38-36.
“We were moving as a unit,” Pat Sidley said. “We were doing well as far as moving as a unit. We were where we were supposed to be and we doing what we were supposed to do. We were reading their eyes and getting into passing lanes.
“We picked up the intensity.”
The Beavers (1-0) countered with Shannon Garvey, who connected on three of four free-throw attempts in the bonus to go up, 41-36, with 48 seconds to play.
“Before I shoot, I just think about being focused,” Garvey said. “I put everything out of my mind except making the free throw.”
“That was clutch,” Jones said. “The free throws from Shannon were very big. We’re a very young team with almost no varsity experience, so to be able to play a varsity game and be a starter was new to them.
“They pushed through adversity and won the game.”
Following the free throws, Ledgemont made more mad dash and closed to within one, 41-40, with 20 seconds left, behind buckets from Alivia Sidley and Amelia Sidley.
“They caught us off-guard with that 1-2-2 halfcourt trap,” Jones said. “They made the girls a little nervous. They changed the tempo of the game. We weren’t ready for the change in tempo.
“They took over the tempo and we had to get it back under control.”
The Redskins’ defense then forced a five-second call with 5.9 seconds left to take possession. Pat Sidley called a timeout and drew up the final play.
Garvey gave the Beavers a lead they never relinquished with consecutive layups before dishing to Brianna Prugel for a bucket to make it 10-7 with 3:10 to play in the opening period.
Riverside expanded that advantage to 21-10 midway through the second quarter following a 3-pointer from Garvey and another from Prugel. Erin Fahl gave Riverside a 14-point advantage, 33-19, with a trey of her own with 40 seconds to play in the third.
“I was definitely looking for the open man,” Fahl said. “They were in a good zone, so we had to spread the floor to get open looks.”
Garvey paced the Beavers with 14 points, Prugel netted nine and Ashley Plassard added eight.
Taylor Erskine scored 12 points, grabbed 13 boards and had six steals to lead the Redskins. Alivia Sidley scored 10 points and Megan Ritts chipped in with eight.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.