DUBLIN – Abby Erickson and Gina Santangelo came off the bench to lead an 11-0 run in the first quarter and the Olentangy Liberty girls basketball team made it stand up in a 56-37 win at Dublin Scioto in non-league action Wednesday night.
Santangelo and Erickson used the same read and action on three consecutive plays during the run. Erickson flashed in the right post and Santangelo fed high to her left where Erickson could catch and lay it in underneath.
“We’ve put a big focus on – no matter who we’re playing – we want to throw the first punch and not dig ourselves into a hole,” Erickson said. “I know my role on the team – I’m not a starter. So, when I go in, I know that I need to work as hard as I possibly can and I think I did a good job of that today.”
The action led to hoops on four consecutive possessions with Teegan Pifher completing the fourth to push the lead to 10.
“The bigs did a nice job of getting to the rim and the guards did a nice job of finding them and that’s key,” Liberty coach Sam Krafty said. “There are some games where the bigs are running and they’re not getting the ball and we just encourage them to keep running. Sometimes it’s a hard pass to make and guards don’t feel good letting that loose because they might turn it over. Tonight they did a great job of (making that pass).”
Santangelo put an exclamation point on the run with a long 3-pointer from the right wing off a Kiera McClusky feed in the final seconds to give the Patriots a 17-4 lead at the end of the first.
Scioto came out strong in the second with a 10-2 start led by a pair of Lauren Erickson 3s.
“She was our spark today,” Scioto coach Jen Music said. “She knocked down some 3s and kinda kept us in it. They started face-guarding her and we couldn’t get her the ball.”
Trinity Ramos answered the second one off a Sarah Balliett steal and assist. Lauren Erickson and Ramos traded triples at the end of the half with the latter giving Liberty a 27-17 lead at the break.
Abby Erickson and Lauren Erickson are first cousins, so some bragging rights were on the line, Abby said.
“She kind of went off on us a little bit,” Abby said. “It’s fun – we’re a bit of a competitive family, so it’s kind of fun to … beat her.”
Abby couldn’t help but smile at that last bit before adding, “Even if it’s not me personally. It was a good win and I had a lot of fun.”
Scioto came on strong again in the third, holding Liberty without a field goal for the first 3 minutes, 46 seconds.
The Irish whittled their deficit down to five on a Karleigh Rothe basket and another Laure Erickson 3.
Pifher finally broke the momentum with a 3-pointer from the right corner from Betsy Merrit, which started a 22-6 run that carried into the fourth quarter.
“(Liberty is) a good team and they hit a lot of 3s,” Music said. “They’re streaky too. They had some streaks where they knocked some down and we just didn’t do a good enough job offensively of keeping up with that.”
Liberty took advantage of being in the bonus for most of the second half, knocking down 13 of 15 free throws.
Ramos finished with 14 points, Abby Erickson had 12 points and eight rebounds, Levering added 11 points and Santangelo led with five assists for the Patriots (11-4), who have won eight of their last nine games.
“I thought we were pretty sharp defensively,” Krafty said. “It fed our offense a little bit. I thought Abby did a great job of running the floor and rebounding and I thought she was a factor defensively too. All-in-all, it was a pretty good defensive and rebounding effort from the kids.”
Rothe led the Irish (9-6) with 16 points and eight rebounds, Lauren Erickson added 12 points and five boards and Natalie Hutras backed the effort with five assists to go with six rebounds.
Next up, Liberty hosts rival Olentangy Orange in OCC-Buckeye play Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.