By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
Jeff Compan has a realistic view of his 14-year tenure as girls basketball coach at Pymatuning Valley. It’s a pretty good view, considering its from the top of the team’s all-time wins list following his team’s 70-34 victory over visiting Mathews on Monday night.
“It’s a nice honor,” Compan, who recorded his 198th win to top Beth Helfer, a member of the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Famer, as the school’s all-time leader. “It means I’ve been around a long time. I’ve coached a lot of good players.
“Every coach knows he’s only as good as his players and it appears I’ve been blessed here at PV.”
In his typical low-key approach, Compan didn’t even let the Lakers in on the fact he was that close to the record.
“He didn’t even tell us until the last game,” senior Heather Brant said. “We didn’t know he was that close.
“It meant a lot to me (to get him that win) because I’ve here for a lot of them.”
“It felt good for me (that we got him the record) because he was waiting on me to get to high school,” junior Geena Gabriel said. “It felt like an accomplishment for me, though I’ve only put in minimum effort.”
The win was about more than a record for Compan.
“It was nice to get it out of the way, that way we can stop thinking about it and worrying about it. It’s just another game in a long season.
“It was an importnat game because we’re trying to win a league title and any league loss takes us out of contention. It’s important game because we needed a win. We played well. I’m pleased with the effort tonight.”
The Lakers (12-2, 6-2 in Northeastern Athletic Conference) seemed to want to get Compan the record in the first quarter. They used a 10-0 run to go up, 15-5, with 4:17 to play in the period. They then scored the last eight points of the quarter to take a comfortable 25-11 lead through eight minutes.
“We always talk about playing from the tip to the buzzer,” Brant said. “It’s all about effort and energy. It was more so today, knowing (Coach could get the record).”
That’s about the time Pymatuning Valley began to put the game away.
The Lakers outscored the Mustangs, 20-5, over the next eight minutes. They were 9 of 11 (81.8 percent) from the field in the quarter, did not turn the ball over and made six steals in forcing seven turnovers.
“We’ve talked about defense before,” Compan said. “That’s the key to us in this winning streak. If we can contain, get a hand up and get the rebound, we get one-shot possessions. We’re very quick in transition and that lead to easy buckets.
“If we see the ball go in early, everybody starts feeling like the ball will go in. When we get good easy shots and the score isn’t tight, those 15-footers become a little easier.”
PV held a 45-16 edge at the break.
“I think we played poorly more than they played well, other than the fact they wanted it more than we did,” Mathews coach Veronica Titus said. “(The Lakers) play hard.
“They’re a very good team and they’re very, very well-coached. Their girls are in the right spots and the yplay the game hard. They do a nice job.”
All five starting Lakers scored in double figures, led by Gabriel who tallied 19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Kelsea Brown netted 14 points, Brant scored 11 with five steals, and Megan Stech (8 rebounds) and Michealia Skleres each added 10 points.
“The other team has to match five players,” Brant said. “They have to stop five of us and a lot of teams don’t have five players who can do that.”
“That makes us pretty dangerous,” Gabriel said. “Most teams, if you stop one girl, you stop the team. With us, we fluctuate so much, you can’t stop us.”
For the Mustangs (7-5, 4-3), the game was a return to action for the first time in a while.
“We’ve only played two games in 18 days,” Titus said. “That makes it really hard to be ready to paly. We were rusty, but don’t get me wrong, Py Valley outplayed us. They outhustled us. They’re a tough team, regardless of us being rusty or not.”
Natalie Halavick and Augusta Fronzaglio each scored six points for Mathews.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.