Last season, the Orange Pioneers missed out on a perfect Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division season with a loss at Hilliard Bradley. With the Jaguars in their gym, they didn’t make the same mistake a second time.
Orange came out on fire in the first quarter and kept Hilliard Bradley at bay all game, finishing with a 63-42 OCC Capital win Friday night at Orange High School.
The win cemented Orange’s (19-1, 14-0 OCC Capital) division championship, which they secured with Tuesday’s win over Watkins Memorial, but also gave them that perfect 14-0 mark in the league they missed out on last year.
“It’s nice to finish strong and finish the league undefeated, but it was more important that we play to the level we should play,” Orange coach Mary Ann Grimes said. “Bradley is a nice team, but we stumbled down there last year. We didn’t want that to happen this year, and I thought the girls did a great job of playing consistently.”
Hilliard Bradley (13-7, 9-5) didn’t exactly lay down for the Pioneers. Jaguars coach Kathy Lindsey’s team did well trying to take away Orange’s inside-outside game, but remained patient and found shots wherever happened to be.
Orange opened the game with the first eight points on a jumper in the paint from senior forward Mya Walker and two three-pointers from junior point guard Taylor Agler and closed the quarter with a 22-11 lead.
“We know each other so well,” Grimes said. “Kathy and I have been friends forever and have coached together, and they stressed taking our high-low game away, but the girls played within themselves and didn’t force a whole lot of things. If the high-low was there, they took it. If not, they took the outside shot. Overall, I thought it was a good, balanced offense.”
Stopping Bradley’s Brooke Espenschied was one of the challenges for the Pioneer defense, and despite the senior’s team-high 13 points, all but four came in the final quarter when Orange had things well in control.
“We put (senior) Allison Donatelli on her but she got into foul trouble, but I thought (junior) Tori Davis did a great job on her,” Grimes said. “We put her in for a couple minutes here and there and did a nice job, and (junior) Maddy Joseph did a nice job toward the end. They all did a good job keeping her in check.”
Orange kept things moving in the second quarter. Bradley closed to within nine points, 26-17, but the Pioneers ran off the next eight points and finished with a 37-20 halftime edge. The margin stayed around that neighborhood the rest of the game, as both teams scrapped and battled to the end.
“We were pretty consistent all night,” Grimes said. “We never had any real scoring droughts. I thought the defense did a good job in forcing them into some tough shots, and when they didn’t go we were able to rebound and run the floor a little bit.”
Walker led all scorers in her final game on the home floor, scoring 21 points on the night, 10 in the first half, 11 in the second. It was her first 20-plus-point game since the second game of the season at Westerville South.
Agler and senior Kelsey Lewis also had 10 points each for the Pioneers, Agler’s total including her two threes. Maddy Joseph also finished with nine points, all coming on three threes. Junior Kierstynn Myers also had seven points, while Davis and junior Taylore Bundy added three points apiece.
Senior Jasmine Junkins added 11 points for Bradley. Freshman Ashley Hummel also finished with six for the visitors.