Olentangy wiped away a slow start from the field to overcome a 12-11 opening-period deficit en route to scoring a 57-35 non-conference victory over rival Big Walnut in girls basketball action Thursday night in Lewis Center.
John Feasel’s Braves, after shooting only 28.6 percent (4-for-14) in the first eight minutes, came back out to shoot 41.5 percent (17-for-41) the rest of the way to record their fifth victory in six season starts.
“We came out a little cold to start the game,” Feasel said. “Big Walnut came out after us defensively, but we hit five of our first eight shots to start the second quarter and we were able to take control of the game.”
Olentangy took the lead for keeps on 5-foot-10 junior wing Katie Heath’s rebound basket just seconds into the second quarter. Heath’s putback triggered a 13-3 Lady Braves run, which ended on 6-2 junior post Lydia Hyburg’s rebound basket as the clock ticked under four minutes.
By the end of the first half, the Braves had recorded six of their 10 putback baskets, including a pair by Heath, as Olentangy took a 27-16 lead into the locker room.
“Olentangy was solid on the boards and we hurt ourselves with 17 turnovers in the first half,” Big Walnut head coach Bob Scott said. “We didn’t matchup well with them inside and they hurt us early with their press.”
Big Walnut, falling to 3-5 overall, turned the ball over on 10 of its 16 opening-half possessions and led by only one after one — despite connecting on six of seven field goal attempts in the first quarter.
“They hurt us with their press,” Scott said. “We’re a young team without a lot of experience … we’re going to have to work hard and continue to improve.”
Olentangy came back out and opened up an 18-point, 42-24 advantage on 6-3 senior post Ronnie Kenley’s 3-point play with 2:28 left in the third quarter. The Braves went on to lead by as many as 23, taking a 54-31 lead on 6-0 junior post Megan Beidelman’s rebound bucket with 2:13 left in the contest.
“I thought we did a good job in the second and third quarters at both ends of the floor,” Feasel said. “We shot the ball well, went to the boards and played good defense.”
Olentangy shot 40 percent (12-for-30), held a 22-10 advantage on the boards and limited Big Walnut to 18 shots (6-for-18) over the two periods.
Brooke Zwayer, the Braves’ 5-10 junior point, led Olentangy with 13 points. Beidelman and Hyburg followed with 10 points apiece. The Braves shot 40 percent (22-for-55), adding 5 of 9 free throws. The Braves, led by Beidelman’s 8 boards, outrebounded the Golden Eagles, 39-24. Olentangy committed 16 turnovers at the cost of 9 points.
Big Walnut was led by senior forward Megan Walters, who matched Zwayer for top scoring honors with 13 points. Senior guard Kayleigh Hammond, sophomore post Skylar Fleak and junior post Sara Petty contributed 6 points apiece. Fleak contributed a team-high 4 rebounds. The Golden Eagles finished with a 38.9 shooting percentage (14-for-36) while cashing in on 5 of their 6 free throws. Big Walnut totaled 25 turnovers at the expense of 22 points.