In a game that resembled tires spinning in the mud, the Buckeye Valley girls basketball team got off to an 8-0 start and never trailed in a 56-49 win over North Union in MOAC action Friday night in Delaware.
“We’re usually a team that starts slow,” BV senior Morgan Scowden said. “Our coach (Travis Stout) had us try something new. He had us warm up an hour or two before game time and I think that really helped us.”
Tess Hughes scored six points to lead the opening rally and Scowden paced the Barons (11-6, 6-4) the rest of the way with 16 points.
“Scowden has worked so hard to be a more level player,” Stout said. “I think Morgan has improved on the defensive end and that has allowed her to gain more confidence and be a steady force for us. She’s really developed into one of our better players.”
Hughes finished with 12 points and Dani Grether scored 10 and pulled down eight rebounds off the bench for BV, which swept the season series.
“Our kids have worked so hard to get to this point,” Stout said. “We lost 20 straight games to North Union and we beat them twice this year. It just shows you that it’s nothing that I’m doing … nothing that the coaches are doing … it’s a credit to them. They’ve done what we’ve asked them to do since day one and it’s paying off for them.”
The Wildcats stayed close, pulling within three aided by a Taylor Day and-one and two Maddi Ruhl three-pointers.
But, the Barons pushed the lead back thanks to a couple of Scowden baskets and a third from Grether to lead 25-18 at the break.
The game slowed to a crawl in the second half as the teams combined for 27 fouls and 38 free throw attempts.
The Wildcats got as close as three on a couple of occasions in the third, the first off of a Ruhl three-pointer.
Scowden buried a three from the right corner through contact to push it to 40-33 to start a 7-2 rally and NU never got within striking distance again.
“It was important that we were able to get that lead back,” Stout said.
Hannah Cowan added a pair of free throws and Hughes knocked down a jumper during the spurt. Cowan finished with seven points and eight boards for BV.
“(Hughes) is a leader for us just in the way she conducts herself in practice,” Stout said. “She’s another that had a good year for us last year, but has just become more consistent and a steady force for us. Her leadership and her overall approach has just been phenomenal.”
Ruhl led the Wildcats (12-7, 6-5) with 15 points on the strength of four threes and Avery Clark had 21 rebounds to go with 13 points.
Next up, BV plays out of league for the final time of the regular season when it hosts Grandview Heights Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.