By MATT WAGNER
For the Star Beacon
It was a battle of styles Thursday night at Bristol. Pymatuning Valley plays as if it has five guards on the floor at all times. Bristol likes to play in the halfcourt and feed the ball into the post.
The Lakers imposed their will on the Panthers and pulled away for a 55-35 victory.
“That’s kind of the staple of our style,” PV coach Jeff Complan said. “We trap and we press and we try to create turnovers and use our team speed. We're not blessed with somebody who's 6-foot-2. We have very good defensive players, so we wanted to get up and push the tempo today, especially because (Bristol) played a game last night.
“We thought that if we could have pushed the pace in the early going, we might take their legs out from them a little bit. I thought we had the pace right where we wanted it and our girls really focused on defending today. I'm really proud of our effort."
Towering above everybody on the court, Bristol’s Ally Jones now can say she towers above most girls to wear the Bristol uniform.
With 3:34 remaining in the Panthers’ loss, the senior center received a pass from Elexis Blake and banked in a shot from the paint to become the fourth player in team history to record 1,000 points in her career.
The crowd, holding signs for her in anticipation from the start, exploded and cheered
“I’ve worked hard these four years and it was great to get it with a such a great crowd because everyone that I love and care about was here,” Jones said. “I have a great support system at home and with my friends. For them to all be here supporting me and cheering me on throughout the four years was an amazing experience.”
Her teammates also celebrated the achievement, with each player hugging Jones. Jones felt the achievement meant as much to them as it did to her.
“Our team is a family,” she said. “We do everything together and I wouldn’t have gotten here if it wasn’t for them. They know that, and they know how appreciative I am of them. I don’t take full credit for it — I give them a lot of the credit because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Outside of that brief moment, the Panthers (8-4, 3-3 Northeastern Athletic Conference) had little to celebrate.
After a close first quarter, the Lakers (7-2, 5-2) dominated the Panthers, using traps and high-pressure defense to force Bristol into a plethora of mistakes that PV then turned into quick baskets.
The Panthers committed 28 turnovers in the game, with the bulk coming in the first three quarters.
Jones and her teammates hadn’t seen such a defense yet this season.
“This is probably one of the most high-pressure games we’ve played,” Jones said. “We just got to work on taking care of the ball a little bit more.”
Along with the high-tempo style, the Lakers tried to open up the lane by bringing Jones away from the basket, allowing players to get around the 6-foot-2 center and drive to the basket.
No player took advantage more than Kelsea Brown. The sophomore forward dropped 24 points, 18 of which came from field goals in the paint, and grabbed 12 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass.
“Kelsea’s probably one of our most athletic players and she probably played the best game of her career tonight,” Compan said.
“Defensively, she got her hands on a lot of balls. We were happy with our effort today, and the way Kelsea played made things a lot easier.”
Wagner is a sports writer for the (Warren) Tribune Chronicle.