The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 1, 2013

A Bob Ettinger column: Eagles were birds of a different feather

For the Star Beacon

ANDOVER TOWNSHIP — Contrary to popular belief, coaches only have so much control over the outcome of a basketball game. Once their team finds a rut and loses all resemblance to the squad they’d skippered all season, they actually feel just how little control they actually have over the outcome.

Geneva coach Nancy Barbo found herself in that position during a 46-38 Division II district semifinal loss to Lakeview at Pymatuning Valley on Thursday.

“You feel extremely helpless,” Barbo said. “You put your faith in your players. You try and communicate confidence to them.”

The Eagles’ season ended in a loss in which they looked nothing like the team Barbo had led all year, the squad that earned the top seed of the tournament.

“There was nothing fluid about the game,” Barbo said. “Even timeouts — we’d tell them to run a play and they’d never run the play.

“It was a baffling game. It was disappointing. It wasn’t like we didn’t practice hard.”

Geneva (20-3) struggled right out of the gate, despite building an 8-2 lead over the first 7:39. Natalie Thomas scored six of those first eight points for the Eagles and Becky Depp added the other two.    

Barbo thought maybe the light might pop on after the break between periods.

“I kept hoping it was just first-quarter jitters,” Barbo said. “In the second, we were working our way out of it. We were just in a funk and we couldn’t get out of it.

“We started struggling from the outside. We weren’t making shots and it spiraled into everything else.”

After falling behind by that 8-2 count, the Bulldogs turned the tables with a 16-2 run over the first four and a half minutes of the second period.

“I kept telling them they were not playing with confidence,” Barbo said. “We were not shooting with confidence. We were not handling the ball with confidence.

“It was an odd display of basketball. I kept hoping it would start to click and it never did.”

Lindsey Mayle stopped the bleeding, at least temporarily, for Geneva with a bucket on a drive to the hoop. Thomas scored on a feed from Depp and then Depp scored on an inbounds pass from Mayle.

The Eagles were within two, 18-16, with 2:13 to play in the half and had a chance to shift momentum back in their favor.

It didn’t happen and the Bulldogs (19-5) entered the break up, 19-16.

Geneva — which entered the contest with 118 3-pointers made on the season — attempted very few outside shots, making three 3-pointers in the game. Two of them came in the final six minutes. They were 12 of 51 (23.5 percent) from the field on the night.

Neither team wanted much to do with taking control in the third as they combined to score just 12 points — six each — over the next eight minutes.

Then Lizzy Konitsney gave Lakeview control.

One of the less-heralded Bulldogs, Konitsney netted a point a minute over the final eight minutes. With every one of those points, the Eagles’ took another step up the desperation ladder.

“In every way, shape and form, we became desperate,” Barbo said. “We were going for steals on defense. We forgot the help line. We were jumping (for the ball) and I guess we gambled.

“That just wasn’t us on defense, either.”

There was, perhaps, one play that tells the story of the game for the Eagles.

“We ran the press one time,” Barbo said. “(Allie) Pavlik dribbled through it and scored. She dribbled through five people.

“That was the night right there.”

Over the first seven minutes of the final quarter, for every basket scored by an Eagle, the Bulldogs netted two. With a minute to play, Lakeview led by 11, 41-30.

Depp scored seven points in that final minute, but it wasn’t enough to get the Eagles flying straight.

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula. Reach him at