By Michael Rich
Summer Blevins and Kamryn Kimmel each had big first halves to help Pleasant parlay a 33-13 lead at the break into a 50-32 victory over Buckeye Valley in girls basketball action Saturday night in Delaware.
“I think they came out and they were physical with us and we didn’t respond in the first half the way we did in the second half,” Barons coach Landon Fraker said. “We didn’t do a very good job defending — getting in our gaps — the pick-and-roll hurt us and the penetration.”
Blevins scored 16 of her game-high 18 points in the first half and Kimmel chipped in eight points in the second quarter as the Spartans built their 20-point halftime cushion.
“(Blevins) is very, very talented,” Fraker said.
Pleasant (19-1, 12-1), which won its 17th straight game, maintains its first-place tie in the loss column with North Union in the MOAC-Red.
NU wrapped up its share of a league title with a win over Marion Harding Saturday night. The Spartans can share with a win over Galion next Saturday.
Blevins scored eight of the Spartans’ first 10 points and Kimmel had three assists and three steals as Pleasant built a 14-5 lead at the end of the first.
“I think we have to get more people in front of (Blevins),” Fraker said. “I think anytime she gets a small opening, she can go through it.”
Kelsey Shearer found Logan Hatcher for a layup that she turned into a three-point play to open the second quarter and pull the Barons (11-8, 8-5) within eight.
“We felt like, at that point, it was a good chance for us to get over the hump,” Fraker said. “I felt like we were trying to score out of position, out of rhythm, out of position, in that first quarter and a half and that kind of put us down.”
But, the Spartans could not be slowed. Kimmel hit a three-pointer and converted a three-point play during a 10-3 spurt in the second quarter to build the lead to 24-11. Kimmel finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
“We had a turnover, we fouled a penetrator and, at that point, the wheels started coming off,” Fraker said. “At that point, we just couldn’t stop it. The kids played with emotion — they wanted to hit that big shot … they wanted to propel the team.”
Blevins converted 6-of-8 free throws late in the half to build the 20-point halftime cushion. She finished with four rebounds for the game.
“I thought we weren’t square with (Blevins) a lot of times in the first half,” Fraker said. “I thought our help was slow to get to her. So, we ended up getting to her and reaching and she’s strong enough just to go through that.”
Blevins was held to two points in the second half.
“In the second half, we did a better job of getting in front of her and then making her give the ball up,” Fraker said.
Kimmel and Jaden Mauk each connected on threes early in the third to build it to 39-15, Pleasant’s largest lead of the game.
Logan Hatcher scored BV’s final six points of the third and the Barons trailed 42-22 through three. Hatcher led the Barons with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Fraker was pleased with his team’s effort in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter when an 8-2 spurt pulled the Barons within 16. Alaina Radcliffe scored five points during the spurt. Radcliffe finished with eight points and four rebounds.
“We defended in the second half — we didn’t do a very good job defending in the first half,” Fraker said. “They played hard. We could have lost that game by 40 and we didn’t. We came back and we dug in. I think that says a lot about the character of this team.”
Megan Veneman, BV’s leading scorer this season, left the game early in the fourth quarter after she was fouled hard across the face while going to the basket.
Karmen Linder had 10 rebounds to go with five points and Ashley Anderson pulled down six boards for Pleasant.
Next, BV travels to Bexley tonight at 7:15 p.m. for the first of two meetings between the teams. The Barons and the Lions are slated to meet in the first round of the Central District tournament Monday, Feb. 15 in Delaware.
Also: Berne Union 49, Delaware Christian 42.
Thomas Worthington 71, Olentangy 57.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.