By Michael Rich
Emma Stille finished with a double-double and filled the stat sheet to help visiting Westerville Central knock off the Big Walnut girls basketball team 50-31 Tuesday night in Sunbury.
Stille finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while adding three steals and a pair of blocks for the Warhawks, who took control with a 13-2 run to open the second half.
“(Stille) typically gets around eight rebounds or nine rebounds per game,” Central coach Jamiya Pride said. “But those extra few definitely propelled us to the top (Tuesday night). They gave us energy. It was one shot and done versus them getting offensive rebounds.”
“I think that she’s just such an active player offensively,” Big Walnut coach Steve Palmer said. “I think she reads the ball well when it comes off the rim. I think they feature her with that high-low (on offense). She’s got a nose for the ball and the will to go get it … 14 rebounds don’t happen by accident.”
Stille scored four during an 8-0 start in the third for the Warhawks as they gained control. Colleen White’s basket at the end of the third capped the scoring and the Golden Eagles trailed 32-22 through three.
“We finally were able to give her the ball in the post,” Pride said. “All season long, our bread and butter has been our post players. (Stille) just played strong for us — rebounding, defensively — a good presence for us (Tuesday night).”
BW’s Taryn Hammond found Kelly Kreager for three to make it 37-27. Paige Norman then scored to get it as close as eight before Westerville Central scored the final 11 points to round out the scoring, including 6-for-6 at the foul line.
“I know we’re young, I don’t know — it’s very frustrating,” Palmer said. “31 points isn’t enough to win games. (Tuesday night) is a proven fact of that.”
Norman and Kreager each scored six points for Big Walnut (7-10). Norman had three rebounds and two assists and Kreager pulled down four rebounds.
Lexi Todd added six points and a team-high three assists and Michayla Brenning scored all five of her points at the line in the final frame to go with three steals and two assists for Central (8-8).
“We’ve been playing better since we lost to (Hilliard) Darby (Jan. 5),” said Pride, whose team has won four out of five since. “Ever since then, we’ve been getting better and better and better with our inside game.”
Central got off to a fast start. It went 15-0 after Katie Neff opened the game with a three-pointer. Abigail Steele led the charge with six points for Central and finished with 13 points and four boards.
“Give Westerville Central credit, they scored more consistently than we did,” Palmer said. “That was the difference.”
Erin Boehm drove the lane and beat the buzzer to finally end the run for the Eagles to make it 15-5.
“The bottom line is that we can’t go through two quarters and only score five points,” Palmer said. “That’s been our Achilles heel all season. We just have to do a better job of finding opportunities — finding more chances to score.”
Big Walnut opened the second quarter 10-4 to cut the lead to 19-17. Hammond and Neff hit threes for the Eagles. Neff finished with six points.
Tatyana Fennoy and Steele scored baskets to help Westerville Central take a 24-20 lead into the locker room.
“We scored five in the first, but came back in the second and were down four at the half,” Palmer said. “We dug the hole, but then we came out of it a little bit.”
Stacey Walters had three steals and two blocks and Katie Cochran had four rebounds.
“We’ve got to get better decision-wise,” Palmer said. “We had 22 or 23 turnovers — that’s 23 possessions that we don’t get anything and we’re not a super-efficient team offensively anyhow.”
Next up, Big Walnut hosts league-foe Delaware Hayes Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.