In a horse race, jockeys employ one of two strategies. Some like to pace their entry so as to finish strong. Others like to go out as fast as possible in order to break the field.

Kim Triskett likes the idea of the latter and her Mustangs put it to good use in beating Ledgemont, 64-42, in the Conneaut Holiday Tournament at Garcia Gymnasium.

“I like for us to get up and down,” Triskett said. “I’d like to see us be more effective in terms of finishing, but I felt we did a pretty good job on defense.”

The Mustangs (6-2, 3-2 in Northeastern Athletic Conference) will play Edgewood, a 50-46 winner over Conneaut in overtime, in the finals tonight at approximately 7:30. The Redskins will take on the Spartans at approximately 6.

Triskett took advantage of her full compliment of players as Ledgemont coach Pat Sidley was down in numbers because of sickness. Starter Amelia Sidley missed the game as did reserves Anne Ritts, Emily Schafer and Koda DeLong.

“As you can see, we’re now healthy and can play at that pace,” Triskett said. “We can play strong, then sub in five new girls with fresh legs. I want to see them play with intensity and get after it.”

The Mustangs tried several times to pull away early, but Ledgemont kept pulling even.

After Megan Ritts tallied a bucket on an assist from Alivia Sidley off the opening tip, Grand Valley netted the next 8 points — 6 of them from Jess Vormelker who drilled a 3-pointer from the corner and completed a traditional 3-point play. The other bucket was a

putback from Chris Futty.

A putback from Taylor Erskine and a triple from Ritts had the Redskins within a point, 8-7, with 5:22 remaining in the opening period. After Shar Miller scored on a feed from Vormelker, she added a free throw less than a minute later to put GV up, 16-11.

A jumper from Carysa Cantrell and a trey from Sidley knotted the score at 16. The Mustangs tallied the next 5 points and went up 21-17 midway through the first half.

“They run that high screen and roll really well,” Triskett said. “We finally adjusted, but they still did a nice job. They run very it effectively. We made some adjustments and really talked about it at the half. We did a better job in the second half of making them really earn it.”

Buckets from Kelsey Merritt and Abby Paskey pushed the advantage to 25-17 less than 40 seconds into the second period.

Two scores from Cantrell and another from Sarah Luoma had Ledgemont back within a possession at 25-23 with 5:46 remaining in the half. At that point, however, the Redskins fell off the pace.

“Some of that has to do with our defense,” Triskett said. “We have to make sure we stick to our discipline. When you get tired, the first thing you do is stand up on defense. That allowed (Ledgemont) to sneak in for some easier opportunities.”

Grand Valley ended the half on a 12-3 spurt to lead, 37-26, at the break. Ledgemont was never again any closer than eight points.

Sixteen minutes into the contest, the Mustangs had made 11 steals forced 17 turnovers. They gave the ball away just four times.

Nine of the 10 Mustangs scored in the contest with Vormelker leading the way with 19 points and seven assists. Futty (10 rebounds) netted 12, Paskey (5 steals, 4 assists) had 9 and Miller added 8.

“You can attribute that to how well we share the basketball,” Triskett said. “We worked the basketball for good shots. That speaks to what the kids did.”

Grand Valley made 18 assists in the contest.

All 10 of Grand Valley players played some kind of role in the victory.

“We rely on Chelsea (Stehlik, the only Mustang not to score) for defense and she did a good job defensively. She and Alexis (Cassesa) are our two best defenders.

“We really talked about embracing roles within the team, whether they are a defensive specialist, a rebounder or a shooter. The kids understand what they do helps us as a whole. If everyone has a role within the team, within the basketball family, we can do a lot of good things.”     

Cantrell paced the Redskins with 13 points and Erskine chipped in with 12 points and 11 boards.

Ledgemont coach Pat Sidley was unavailable for comment after the game.     

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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