Steady defense lifts Barons over Pirates

ERIC CLINE Sports Writer

January 10, 2014

You can win many a sloppy game with defense, a fact the Buckeye Valley girls basketball team proved Thursday night.

The Barons had too many fouls, too many turnovers and had trouble getting shots to fall, but the defense and free throw shooting were huge in Buckeye Valley’s 51-33 non-league victory over the Cardington Pirates at Buckeye Valley High School.

“It was an ugly win, but the one thing we stress is the defense is there every night,” Buckeye Valley coach Landon Fraker said. “I thought we did a decent job of rotating in our defense and in our man. Half of their points came from free throws, and that was something we talked about at halftime, keeping our feet moving and not our hands so we can prevent them from getting as many points.”

Buckeye Valley (6-5) essentially won the game on the backs of its defense and proficiency at the foul stripe. The Barons forced Cardington (2-9) into a whopping 40 turnovers on the night and limited the Pirates to just 11 shots from the floor in the first half.

The Barons’ offense had a little trouble from the floor themselves, going just 5 of 22 (23 percent) in the first half and finishing 11 of 42 (26 percent) for the game, but penetrated the lane well enough to get to the line 42 times. The Barons made 29 of their free throws, an average of 69 percent from the stripe and just four points fewer than the Pirates’ total for the game.

Cardington tied the score twice in the opening period, but after senior Michaela Linn made two free throws with 3:09 left in the first, the Barons would never trail again, despite their rough shooting night against a stiff Pirates zone and 10 first half fouls which resulted in seven of Cardington’s 13 first-half points.

“The zone slows us down, and that showed when they went to zone,” Fraker said. “Our strength is our man offense, and that zone slowed us down. We just needed a little time to figure it out, and obviously we didn’t figure it out until the second half when we got rolling. I thought Cardington did a good job. They didn’t quit, they came after us and gave us some fits with the press, but our kids hung in and did what they needed to do.”

The Barons still ran off 10 straight points between the first and second quarters and led 22-13 at the half, but buoyed their defense in the third quarter, keeping Cardington off the foul line. Buckeye Valley also improved its play from the high post, with Linn and junior Amy Stought helping the team to an 11-6 third period and a 33-19 lead after three quarters.

“We didn’t get the ball in the high post in the first half, but we did a good job of it in the second half,” Fraker said. “Michaela and Amy did a great job of making the decision of whether to score or whether to pass, and we were able to capitalize on it. I think that was the biggest adjustment offensively.”

Both teams hit the bonus and double bonus rather quickly, and in the fourth quarter, foul shooting accounted for 18 of the 32 points scored in the period, with the Barons going 12 of 19 from the stripe in the final quarter. The Pirates had their best quarter from the field in the fourth, but still went 4 of 16 from the floor thanks to the defensive work of the entire Baron bench.

Linn led all scorers, finishing with 24 points, including a 14 of 18 (78 percent) night from the foul line. Junior Maddie Oberle added 11 points, hitting 7 of 12 (58 percent) free throws, and freshman Megan Veneman added six points, going 4 of 6 (67 percent) from the line.

Stought and senior Cassie Ingram added four points each for Buckeye Valley, while junior Annie Hughes and freshman Allison Fathbruckner added a point each.

Kaitlyn Kavanaugh led the Pirates with 14 points, while Alyson Adams and Jane Perry added six points each.