By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Pymatuning Valley coach Jeff Compan says it after almost every game he coaches — if his Lakers can’t force turnovers and score in transition, they struggle offensively.
The Lakers’ 56-19 victory at Edgewood on Monday night was a perfect example of Compan means when he says it.
The Warriors (4-3) didn’t turn the ball over much in the first 16 minutes, the Lakers (9-0, 4-0 in Northeastern Athletic Conference) got almost nothing in transition and PV led by just 9, 22-13, at the break.
However, the Lakers stole the ball on Edgewood’s first 3 possessions of the second half and scored as a result, in stringing together a 14-2 run to extend that advantage to 36-15 with 2:36 remaining in the third period.
By the sound of the horn, Pymatuning Valley was up, 38-16.
“We talked about the first 3 minutes of the second half (at halftime),” Compan said. “I told them we could allow them to stay in the game or we could go out and get a few hoops, push the lead and cause them to panic a little bit.
“We talk about games we feel we should win. We can’t let people hang around. They outplayed us in the first half. The last thing I told the girls before we came back out here that the first 3 minutes would determine whether we were in a dogfight the rest of the way or not.
“Geena (Gabriel) got us out to a good start.”
Edgewood turned ball over 9 times in the quarter and was 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) from the field.
“I told the girls (PV’s) coach was saying they weren’t playing their game,” Edgewood coach Steve Kray said. “They weren’t running the layup line like they usually do. I told them PV hasn’t played a close game, they’d been beating teams handily.
“It was a 3-possession game. If we got the first 2 baskets, we’d be going strong. The first 2 possessions we tried to dribble through traps and we turned it over right away.”
The Lakers scored immediately following 5 of Edgewood’s turnovers and outscored the Warriors, 18-3, in the final 8 minutes. PV scored the first 18 points of the period.
“(My girls) got frustrated,” Kray said. “Give PV credit. They have the best defense we’ve seen so far. They play hard.
“You’ve got to go around their traps, they’re girls are all 5-foot-8 or 5-9 with long arms.”
Kelsea Brown 9 of her 15 points and had five of her eight rebounds in the second half. Gabriel 12 of her 15 points and had 3 of 6 assists and four of her 7 steals during those final 16 minutes.
Edgewood trailed by just 5 at the end of the first and had held PV without a field goal for the first 5:24. The Lakers were 0 for 7 during that time.
“We didn’t make many in that first half,” Compan said. “I thought (Edgewood) outplayed us.
“Putting the ball in the hoop unlocks everything. Everybody shot well in the second half. They packed the inside to stop Kelsea and Megan (Stech). We needed somebody to hit from the outside. They outplayed us.”
The Warriors limited themselves to just 11 turnovers in the first 16 minutes to keep the Lakers within striking distance.
“We did a nice job at crucial points in the first half of taking care of the basketball,” Kray said. “We preached that we can’t throw the ball over the top of their traps. They’re so tall that the ball will be deflected and they’re going to score in transition. I’m proud of the way we played.
“I told the girls the first 3 possessions (of the game) we had to set the tone — get a body on them, make sure they know we’re going to be physical. I thought we did. We just could not put the ball in the basket. We just didn’t make shots.”
Stech, who finished 19 points and 16 rebounds, scored 13 points and had 12 boards in the first half.
Stech, Brown and Gabriel combined for 49 of the Lakers’ 56 points. Just 4 PV players scored.
Haley Holden paced the Warriors with just 5 points and Taylor Diemer had 4.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.