COLUMBUS – Host St. Francis DeSales took control with a pair of 8-0 runs in the first half and the Olentangy Orange girls basketball team couldn’t recover.
Erin Burns scored a game-high 17 points to lead DeSales to a 43-29 win over the Pioneers in the first round of the Roosters Stallion Holiday Classic Friday night.
Orange features a roster that has three freshmen, three sophomores and three multi-sport athletes that are just getting back into the game.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Orange coach Danielle Roe said. “We do have some sparks that are going to start a fire down the road. That’s where we are as a program and we’re going to give you our best shot every night.”
Burns converted a three-point play and added a basket and Stephanie Karras knocked down a three-pointer during an 8-0 run midway through the first quarter to put the Stallions (5-3) on top to stay.
“She’s really emerging each game – more and more – as our leader,” DeSales coach Erick Herzberg said. “She’s doing so many good things. She had that presence where she knew when she needed to step up and make something happen. She’s an excellent shooter and she’s getting to the basket a lot more than she ever has.”
DeSales bridged the first and second quarters with another 8-0 run to take control and led 25-15 at the break.
Orange’s Joy Gimei drove for a score to open the second half. But Katie Schuler found Burns for a three-pointer that started a 7-point spurt that pushed the DeSales lead to 15.
“We’ve got two kids on the floor that haven’t played basketball in three or four years,” Roe said. “When we go head-to-head, our five on the floor are probably three to four years less experienced than anyone we go against.
“We’ve got volleyball players turned into basketball players. We’ve got soccer players that haven’t played basketball for two or three seasons. They have some grace (with the transition time) because I love the commitment level of multi-sport players. It’s all about rewarding them.”
The Pioneers took advantage of what appeared to be stall-ball by the Stallions. Kayla Delmore scored off her own steal, London Davis had a put-back and a steal that she turned into a basket to pull the Pioneers within 32-25.
But Burns came through again by converting a pair of free throws after getting fouled on a drive.
Katie Schuler provided the dagger with a three-pointer off an Ava Roby feed with 28 seconds left in the frame to push the Stallions’ lead to 37-25 and Orange never threatened again.
“We’re trying to be more consistent,” Herzberg said. “We’re doing a lot of good things, but then we’re still doing some things that loses games or keeps teams in games. There were some times where (Orange) started to grab the momentum back and we were able to put the breaks on and not let one or two mistakes become four, five, six, seven mistakes.”
Davis had 10 points and nine rebounds and Kayla Delmore added eight points and five boards to lead the Pioneers.
“We’re just out of our routine,” Roe said. “It’s Christmas break and you never know what you’re gonna get (after) some time off. We’ll rebound and come back tomorrow. We’re young, but it’s still not an excuse for us to not play for 32 minutes.”
Jordan Sullivan provided a spark off the bench for the Pioneers with nine rebounds – all in the first half — and Emma Delmore added six boards.
Orange will face Upper Arlington in the consolation game of the Roosters Stallion Holiday Classic today at 3 p.m. while DeSales meets New Albany for the title at 6:15 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at email@example.com.