With the way they play, it’s amazing to think that Orange girls basketball coach Mary Ann Grimes wants her Pioneers to pick up their intensity.
The Pioneers did that after a slow early start, going on a 17-0 run in the first and second quarters to take control while getting a standout defensive effort en route to a 67-38 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory over the visiting Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets Friday night at Orange High School.
“We wanted to pick up the intensity,” Orange coach Mary Ann Grimes said. “We have a tendency to come out a little flat sometimes, so I got on them not to do that. We’ve been working on our pressing and our trapping and some run-and-jump, and I thought the girls did a good job.”
Orange (14-1, 9-0 OCC Capital) wasn’t exactly flat, but Mount Vernon (3-11, 1-8) didn’t exactly cave in, either, especially early in the game. The Yellow Jackets scored the first bucket of the game and trailed by just four points three times in the first period before the Pioneers went on their run.
“Mount Vernon has a scrappy team,” Grimes said. “They came in here and played hard regardless of the score. Give them a lot of credit. I like teams that keep playing, and I was excited to see (Mount Vernon) coach (Joe) Rucker and his assistants excited for his players.”
Orange scored the final nine points of the first quarter, including a three-pointer from junior Taylor Agler at the horn, to take a 25-12 lead after one quarter, then scored the first eight points of the second quarter for a 33-12 advantage with 4:48 left in the half.
The Pioneers didn’t hurt themselves on defense, either. Orange forced a whopping 34 Mount Vernon turnovers, including 11 in the second and 10 more in the third. The mistakes helped the Pioneers take a 44-18 lead at the halftime break and extend their lead to 34 points, 54-20, at the midway point of the third quarter.
“The girls did a good job bringing that intensity on defense,” Grimes said. “I like intensity and I liked the fierceness and the competition, so they did a good job there and our girls got the message about the offense in the third quarter. I keep on them saying we have to go fast and a little bit faster, and they did a good job there.”
Orange would go on to take a 61-25 lead at the end of three quarters, but Mount Vernon again refused to leave quietly, outscoring the Pioneers 13-6 in the final period.
Still, Orange’s bench did a solid job all evening long with 21 of the team’s 67 points, with 12 coming from junior Kierstynn Myers. Sophomore MacKenzie Gossard also scored all six Orange points in the final quarter.
“Our starters did a nice job for us, so tonight was a good chance to let our bench get better and better,” Grimes said. “Our bench gave us some good play tonight.”
Agler led all scorers with 17 points for Orange, adding six assists. Junior Maddy Joseph also had 11 points for the Pioneers, senior Kelsey Lewis added nine points and six rebounds, and junior Mya Walker had seven points and three steals. Senior Allison Donatelli and junior Tori Davis had two points each, Donatelli adding three rebounds, three steals and a game-high seven assists.
“This team is all about playing basketball,” Grimes said. “If we get the extra pass, it’s O.K., and if Taylor’s double-teamed and there are two shooters open, that’s O.K. too. They do what their strengths are, and they’re comfortable with that. That’s a good balance to have.”
Keli Thompson topped Mount Vernon with nine points and five assists. Jordan Peppers added eight points while Madi Montgomery finished with six points and a game-high eight rebounds.