Unlike last season, this year’s Orange Pioneers might not make the state Final Four, but they’re certainly going to battle in every game they play.
The young Pioneers showed plenty of hustle and determination, but were hurt by poor shooting and turnovers as the New Albany Eagles took a 55-28 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division win Thursday night at Orange High School.
Orange (0-3, 0-2 OCC Capital) took 34 shots and made just seven (21 percent) for the game, one in which they led only twice, both times in the first quarter. New Albany (2-1, 1-0) took the lead for good late in the first period, helped in large part by hitting 23 of 46 (50 percent) of its shots for the game.
The Pioneers didn’t help themselves with miscues, committing 25 in all, including seven in each of the first three quarters. The visiting Eagles had almost as much trouble in the first half, but had just three turnovers in each of the final two quarters to finish with 14 for the game.
Orange Junior Lexi Werling opened the scoring off a New Albany turnover, hitting a layup off a pass from fellow junior Mikaela Lyons 17 seconds in. New Albany took the lead despite scoring just twice in the next three minutes, but Werling scored again off a feed from junior Brianna Barron, was fouled, and hit her free throw with two minutes left in the quarter to put Orange ahead, 5-4.
The lead was brief, as New Albany’s Kyra Zuiderweg put the Eagles in front 16 seconds later, and the Eagles’ Meche’la Cobb scored on a layup in the final minute to give New Albany an 8-5 edge after one.
Orange had trouble hitting shots in the middle two quarters, and New Albany outscored the Pioneers 12-2 in the first five-plus minutes of the second period. A three-pointer by senior Emilia Martin broke the string with 2:09 left in the period, starting a 7-4 run that pushed the Pioneers to within 10 points, 24-14, at the half.
But shots would continue to fly astray in the third quarter. Orange, which went 2 of 10 (20 percent) in the second period, went 1 for 10 (10 percent) in the third while scoring just three points in the period — one on a Barron free throw, two on a Martin bucket.
New Albany, meanwhile, scored the first 11 points of the period, seven coming from Cobb, and outscored the Pioneers 19-3 in the quarter to take a 43-17 lead. Orange fought throughout the final period and improved its ball-handling, committing just four turnovers, and helped itself from the foul line by going 6 of 12 (50 percent), but New Albany still won the quarter 12-11 and finished with its 27-point victory.
Barron topped the Orange scoring, hitting a fourth-quarter three ball and going 6 of 12 from the line herself to finish with nine points. Werling followed with seven points, while Martin and Lyons each had five for the Pioneers. Sophomore Brianne McCague also hit a late bucket to finish with two points.
Cobb topped all scorers with 21 points for New Albany. Brooke Isabel added nine points and Ally Vendetti eight for the Eagles.