By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
PAINESVILLE TOWNSHIP —
The St. Martin de Porres and St. John girls basketball teams each tried to make the other play its style. After the dust settled, it was the Lions’ style that prevailed in a 42-18 victory Saturday afternoon at Mahoney Gymnasium.
Trying to slow the tempo worked for St. John over the first 12 minutes as the Heralds trailed by just two, 12-10, with four minutes to play in the first half.
The Lions, however, managed to push the pace for the final 20 minutes and sprinted to the Lake Effect Conference win.
“We want to turn it up and get the other team down,” St. Martin de Porres coach Eugene White said. “The quicker we do that, the quicker the game’s over. If we have to play a half-court game, we struggle. We want to turn it into a track meet and we do that with our defense.
“Once we get the other team turning the ball over, we get to run and we become a track team. Our confidence goes up, or as the girls say, their swag goes up, and they can just play basketball.”
Jasmine Jones connected on a free throw, made a steal and dished to Shanice Dillard for a layup and knocked down a 3-pointer in the final 2:39 of the half to put St. Martin de Porres up 18-10, at the break.
The Lions (13-3, 7-0) then scored the first six points of the second half — four by Dillard — to establish complete control of the contest.
St. Martin de Porres stole the ball nine times and forced 13 turnovers in the third quarter to hold the Heralds (7-8, 7-3) to just two points in going up 28-12. That slide continued through the fourth quarter for St. John.
“We actually knew what was coming,” St. John coach Nick Iarocci said. “We were out of our locker room (to start the second half) and we were caught a little off guard.
“I’m proud of the girls. Everything they did on the court, we actually had an answer for. We just have to limit our turnovers and make our shots.”
The Heralds had the ball stolen 25 times and turned it over a total of 38 times in the game. They attempted just 30 shots and made only five (16.7 percent).
On the other side of the equation, the lions were 15 of 70 (21.4 percent) from the field and turned the ball over 18 times, just four of them on steals.
St. John managed to control the pace – despite 20 turnovers — for the majority of the first half, keeping within striking distance, even with starting guards Rae Ann Benedict (knee) and Brenna Powers (hand) out of action with injuries.
“I’m proud of our defense,” Iarocci said. “That’s a team that scores 60 points per game and we held them to 18 in the first half. Our defense had them confused. I’m really proud of the girls. They rose to the challenge.”
The Heralds were down just three, 10-7, through eight minutes and kept it that way through the first half of the second period.
“Our defense handcuffed their athleticism,” Iarocci said. “All that was feeding their offense was our turnovers. I was very angry at the half because I wanted to limit the turnovers. We actually should have been leading. Credit St. Martin’s. They found a way to get it done.”
Jones led all scorers with 19 points and was joined in double figures by Dillard and Corionne Cardwell, who each netted 10 points.
Emily Powers scored half of the Heralds’ points and Mackenzie Stenroos tallied six more. Alex Ferrante added the other three.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.