By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
PAINESVILLE TOWNSHIP —
They aren’t very big in stature, but the guards on the Jefferson girls basketball team played big in a 50-47 victory — the 450th of Jefferson coach Rod Holmes’ career — over Riverside at Community Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
After trading jabs with the Beavers through the first eight minutes, the Falcons dug their talons in and held firm in not allowing Riverside a single field goal for more than 9 minutes, taking a 32-22 lead at the half.
“That second quarter was how we got the lead,” Holmes said. “They turned it over for us. In the third and fourth quarters, they weren’t turning it over for us. I’ve got to give (the Beavers) credit. They never quit.”
The Falcons (6-12) forced 5 turnovers in the second period and held the Beavers (3-14) to 0-for-8 shooting in the quarter.
“That’s huge,” Riverside coach Darren Jones said. “It doesn’t matter what team you play, not scoring (a field goal) for more than 9 minutes... that’s critical. Not scoring for more than 9 minutes, you can’t beat anybody. You’ve got to put the ball in the basket.”
Deanna Comp, Colleen O’Connor, Jessica Becker and Emily Smock teamed to force 3 separate 5-second calls on the Beavers in a 90-second span in the period.
“I was just forcing them to the left,” Comp said. “I knew they didn’t go to the left because our coaches told us. It was working.”
“We were trying to take away their right hand and made them go left every time," Becker said.
“We tried to hit them with traps where we could and the three of us up top just talked to each other.”
Jones credited the Falcons’ guards, but he also looked at his own team’s shortcomings in the quarter.
“I’m not taking credit away (from the Falcons), but that was as much about what we weren’t doing as it was about what they were doing,” he said. “We were standing around watching our own girls dribble, dribble, dribble and then we’d get a 5-second call. When you stand around and watch, that’s going to happen.”
The Beavers battled back to knot the score at 33-33, but the Beavers could never quite wrestle the lead away from Jefferson.
“They came out and hit some shots in the third quarter,” Holmes said. “In the first and third quarters, they hit some shots. They had a little bit of a lead in the first but we did a good job to go up 10 at the half. We never let (the Riverside comeback) get away from us. The girls kept their composure and it tuned out well.
“I thought was good for us. I think they tied it, but I don’t think we gave up the lead. It was big not to give up that lead. If we do give it up, who knows what confidence they gain and what we lose.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about controlling the tempo,” Jones said. “By not getting the lead back, we couldn’t gain that edge. We’re a young team, we can only fall so far behind or it’s too big a struggle to get back. We need to keep it close.
“Jefferson not allowing us to take the lead, took the air out of us.”
Smock led the Falcons with 21 points, Becker added 12 and Sarah Brook had 9.
Kirsten Ponsart led the Beavers with 12, Shannon Garvey had 11 and Plassard had 9.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.