Sometimes a person needs a shock to the system to get them back on track. So do basketball teams.
The Big Walnut Golden Eagles’ shock came in the form of a 12-2 third quarter that gave Buckeye Valley its first lead of the game, but the Golden Eagles picked up their play in the final period and escaped with a 41-37 victory in a non-league game between county rivals Tuesday at Big Walnut High School.
“They had us back on our heels,” Big Walnut coach Bob Scott said. “We have a lot of inexperienced kids, and we’re at the stage where, when adversity starts, we get tentative. We let them be the aggressors, but between quarters we told them to be more aggressive. We needed a win, and we did enough things to get it.”
“We had problems against the 1-3-1 and we didn’t make a couple adjustments we needed to make,” Buckeye Valley coach Landon Fraker said. “Once we had a couple turnovers instead of a couple shots, I think it rattled us a little bit. We settled down, but they made their free throws and that’s what you need to do to win games.”
Big Walnut (2-3) held a 27-20 at the half only to see Buckeye Valley (2-3) score the final nine points of the third quarter in a span of 3:19 to take a 32-29 lead into the final period.
But the Golden Eagles came out with a renewed vigor in the final quarter, scoring the first five points of the period to take a lead they would not give up again.
The Barons would trim the Big Walnut lead back to one point, 34-33 with 4:38 left and sliced it to one a second time, 38-37, with 25 seconds to play, but the Golden Eagles were 6 of 11 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, had just two turnovers and got a huge fast break bucket from senior Kayleigh Hammond off an inbound pass from Samantha Klinedinst with 23 seconds to go to secure the win.
“We did a much better job handling the basketball tonight, and Kayleigh had a huge game,” Scott said. “We needed someone to step up and score some points and she did that. We tell them in practice every day someone needs to step up and she did that.”
“We’re a young team and we’re still learning how to play with a lead,” Fraker said. “That’s something we’re not used to doing, but we’re getting better at it. We’ll get one of these close games, we’ll figure out what it’s like to finish one out, and we’ll be just fine.”
Hammond topped all scorers with 16 points on the night, while Klinedinst added eight points and senior Megan Walters chipped in with seven for Big Walnut. Junior Stephanie Adkins also had five points for the Golden Eagles, senior Calen Williams finished with three points, and sophomores Skylar Fleak and Sara Petty had two points each, Petty hitting a pair of foul shots in a one-and-one situation late in the game that effectively put it out of reach.
“We did some very good things tonight,” Scott said. “We made some big foul shots, especially the two from Sara late in the game. We’re make things exciting, and we still have to learn how to hold a lead and extend it, but we were able to get a win we really needed.”
Junior Shannon Steinke and sophomore Michaela Linn combined for 27 of the 37 Buckeye Valley points, Linn finishing with a team-high 14 points and Steinke adding 13 for the Barons. Senior Lakyn Francisco and junior Taylor Hyatt added four points apiece while sophomore Laura Lemanski had two points.
“Both Shannon and Michaela played well tonight and they played well together the last time out,” Fraker said. “I thought Lakyn did a lot of good things tonight, and I thought Taylor got us into the offenses. Everyone did their part, but not everyone appears in the box score.”