DELAWARE – The Buckeye Valley girls basketball team took advantage of a slow start by visiting Shelby, which made the hour-plus trip for the first time as a member of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.
Then, the Whippets got their legs under them and turned up the pressure both offensively and defensively.
Shelby turned it into a 28-2 game-ending run to send the host Barons to their third consecutive loss – all in league play – 49-30 Tuesday night.
“I don’t think we really got off the bus in the first half,” Shelby coach Natalie Lantz said. “All we really did was change the way we ran one of our defenses and extended it a little and went tandem. I think we finally just got some energy … and the girls really, really took over from there.”
The win, coupled with Marion Harding’s loss to River Valley, gives the Whippets a two-game lead in the league as BV falls three back.
BV coach Mike Daniels looked at the game as a measuring stick for the Barons. The offense was timid at times – particularly in the second half.
“I like our length – but we can’t live on defense alone,” he said. “Even in the three losses, our defense had us in the game. Our offense couldn’t pull us out. They need to look to score (on offense). It’s a process – it’s going to take time.”
Defense is an obvious strength. Shelby shot 40 percent from the field, including 1-for-11 from behind the arc and turned it over 21 times.
“We play defense,” Daniels said. “We’re probably one of the stronger defenses in the league and it threw them off.”
Shelby’s defense forced 28 turnovers, including 10 in the fourth quarter alone as the Whippets added to their lead.
“It was just experience,” Daniels said. “Plus – we’re big – so it’s hard to get the ball handled. So, it’s just something that we’re going to have to continue to work on and get better at.”
Dani Grether scored 15 points, including six of the team’s eight in the second half. Hannah Cowan had seven assists and six rebounds, Anika Craft had 10 rebounds and Reilly Taylor had four steals to lead the Barons (4-3, 3-3).
“I’m happy with the way they played – they played their hearts out,” Daniels said. “As long as they do that – I’m happy. We’re going to get better … and when we get better, it’s going to be a little tougher for them.”
Taylor knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing with 2:16 left in the second quarter to give the Barons the lead. That basket was part of an 11-2 run that gave BV a 22-17 lead at the break.
The Barons got a pair of baskets sandwiched around a Craft bucket to take a 28-21 lead midway through the third.
“We haven’t played against a team with their size yet,” Lantz said. “We were chucking shots (in the first half) and we weren’t even looking at the basket. (BV plays) long … they are long. I think if they hit their shots they’re going to be a tough team to beat in the future.”
BV had turnovers on each of its last four possessions of the third as the Whippets went to work.
“We passed the ball really well,” Grether said. “We knew this was going to be a tough game. We came out really strong and – in the third quarter – we didn’t execute really well.”
Sophia Niese turned a steal into a layup to tie it 28-28 with 46 seconds left in the frame and Emma Randall gave the Whippets the lead with 11 seconds left.
Niese kept Shelby afloat in the first half, scoring nine of her 13 points. She added five rebounds and four steals. Randall took over in the second half, scoring nine of her 13 points.
Cierra Gurney added 10 points, 12 rebounds and five steals and went a perfect 6-for-6 at the line in the fourth quarter to help the Whippets (8-0, 6-0) seal the win.
Next up, BV hosts Bishop Ready in non-league action Friday night at 7:30.
Olentangy Liberty 66, Marysville 51
The Patriots raced out to a 22-8 first-quarter lead and cruised from there, notching a non-league win over the visiting Monarchs Tuesday in Powell.
Liberty outscored Marysville 17-13 in the second to grab a convincing 39-21 halftime advantage.
Teegan Pifher led a trio of Patriots in double figures, collecting a game-best 21 points in the win. Kelly Levering was also solid, finishing with 14 points, and Jessie Barna had 10.
Logan Brown led the Monarchs with 12 points while Kass Lee added nine.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at email@example.com.