The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 17, 2013

Warriors skipped

Fairport forces the issue to get past Edgewood

By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Simple fundamentals can either make or break a team in any sport.

Wednesday night at Edgewood, a young but improving group of Edgewood Warriors took on an equally young and improving group from Fairport.

Both teams executed the fundamentals fairly well, but the Skippers executed the most important ones, putting the ball into the basket and getting hold of it while in play, much better at crucial times, to muster a tough 56-46 non-conference win over the Warriors.

After a stumbling first period where neither team had much of a grip on anything, Fairport (7-8, 1-5 in Chagrin Valley Conference) put the clamps on the Warriors with fullcourt pressure. It led to nine turnovers, and those led to some fairly easy shots, and the Skippers knocked 9 of their 18 tries for the period after hitting just 4 of 18 in the first period.

A 9-0 run covering just over a minute and a half pushed a 14-9 Skipper lead to 23-9, and the Warriors, missing many easy shots in the first half, were not able to cut into the lead. Fairport kept the lead in double digits until a Gia Saturday 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to play cut it to 55-46, but that was as good as it got.

“We were able to put down the shots when we had to,” Fairport coach Ed Reed said. “We put down the free throws, too, when we had to. It was good to see Shannon Harless get some of her confidence back tonight, too. She’s our scorer, CVC teams know it, but it’s a tough league and they know what she can do. This was by far one of her best games overall.

“Morgan (Ondo) is only a freshman, too. She’s like the energizer bunny, she never slows down. Sammi Manross had her best game of the year, too. We got good balance, we wanted to pressure them all over in the first half, and it worked for us to get a lead.”

The Warriors actually shot the ball better. In hitting 18 of 50, they outshot Fairport, 36 percent to 32.2 percent. Turnovers were the major difference, and offensive rebounding played a big part.

The Warriors lost the ball 31 times to 20 for Fairport. The difference on the boards was bigger, 40-27. This despite a 13-rebound effort from Edgewood’s Cortney Humphrey. The key in that department was that the Skippers snared 18 errant shots on the offensive glass, and after first shots, they made the second attempts when it mattered.

Harless paced the scoring for Fairport with 14 points, Ondo added 13, and Manross had 10. All eight players for Fairport scored, six had assists and all had at least two rebounds.

“The last three to four games have really been frustrating for us,” Warrior coach Dave McCoy said. “Our frustration level right now is really high. I’m trying to stress to the girls not to put too much pressure on themselves, especially early in games. We’re having breakdowns early in games. We are learning that practice and game speed is very different. We have stretches when things fall apart, and we just can’t do that and come back.”

Humphrey recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards. Taylor Diemer added nine, Alyssa Johnson eight, and Gia Saturday seven, all in the fourth period.

“One big thing for us,” McCoy added, “is that we want to come out in the third period, and if we’re down, cut the difference in half if we can by the fourth period. Tonight, we got down by more than 10 in the second period and couldn’t pick it up on offense until it was too late.”

Reed was aware of that fact.

“We knew Saturday could score in a hurry,” he added. “She’s quick and a good shooter, so we felt if we put a lot of pressure on them early, we might be able to take her out of the game for a while. The plan worked.”

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.