By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Steve Kray has coached a lot of games in a number of sports, but his Edgewood girls basketball team gave him a night he won’t soon forget in beating Orange, 45-22, Tuesday night at Edgewood.
It was his first game as the Warriors’ coach.
“This is a special group of girls,” Kray said. “There’s no doubt I’m enjoying every minute of this, especially being a new sport and something I haven’t coached before.
“I told the girls this is one thing I’ll remember this. I won’t forget this game.”
The Warriors (1-0) led 13-1 nearly nine minutes in, behind four points from Gia Saturday, four points from Taylor Diemer, three more from Cortney Humphrey and two more from Carrie Pascarella.
They followed that with a 7-0 spurt that lasted two and a half minutes to put them up, 20-3, midway through the second period. Diemer hit two jumpers during that span.
Edgewood took a 26-7 lead at the half behind unselfish play on the offensive end and aggressive defense in the halfcourt set.
“They’ve been very unselfish during this early part of the year,” Kray said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we have three or four girls averaging six points. We don’t have a 20-point scorer, but on nights like tonight where Gia shoots like she did in the second half, we can do pretty well.
“They were making the extra pass. That’s what we’ve tried to preach the last two months.”
The Warriors forced 19 turnovers and held Orange to just one field goal in 17 tries in the first half using aggressive man-to-man half-court defense. They constantly had their hands on the ball as the Lions either tried to dribble or shoot.
“I’m not a big proponent of zone defense and in girls basketball, teams play a lot of it,” Kray said. “The girls played hard and were consistently in the right position.
“Our man defense is coming along. They’re learning what they can and can’t do depending with the personnel we have on the floor.”
“That’s any good defense,” Orange coach Ship Collins said. “Hats off to Edgewood. They were playing tough defense. We’re still getting used to playing with that kind of contact.
“Edgewood did a great job.”
After the Warriors’ Cortney Humphrey scored the first two buckets of the second half, Orange made a dent in Edgewood’s lead with a 12-0 run in which five different players scored to cut the deficit tot 30-19, with 1:57 to play in the period.
The Lions (0-1) forced Edgewood to play a bit faster than it would have liked.
“I think (my players) accepted the fact they needed to play quicker,” Collins said. “They went out and tried to force that in the second half.
“We were trying to get going there. We’re still learning. We’re still growing. As always, they don’t quit.”
“Through that stretch in the third quarter, we weren’t playing smart,” Kray said. “We kind of started to dribble trying to break the press instead of throwing the ball to the open player.
“I called timeout and told them to take a breath. We can’t let one turnover snowball and turn into 20. That allowed them to regain some confidence.”
It didn’t hurt that Saturday dropped in a 3-ball from the corner to end the run.
“I think the biggest shot of the night was that 3 Gia hit down there in the corner right there in front of me,” Kray said.
Saturday scored 16 points to pace the Warriors, Diemer added eight and Humphrey netted seven.
Shayna Severin led Orange with six points.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.