HENRIETTA TWP. — The highest scoring girls basketball team in the Patriot Athletic Conference put on a defensive clinic Wednesday.
Junior power forward Madison Ross had 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals as Buckeye forced 33 turnovers on its way to a 55-36 Stars Division win over Firelands.
The division-leading Bucks (11-3, 9-0 PAC) suffocated their hosts from baseline to baseline in limiting the Falcons to 10 baskets on 39 field goal attempts. The Falcons (7-6, 5-4) had been undefeated at home in the PAC, but were outscored 51-29 over the final three quarters.
“At times, I don’t know if our girls knew there was a game going on tonight,” Firelands coach Dave Kudela said. “We just lost focus and were sort of spectating while Buckeye drove to the basket. It’s frustrating because we’re better than we performed.
“But there is a reason why Buckeye is 9-0 in the league. They’re a very good team that is well-coached, disciplined and unselfish.”
Junior power forward Emily Stewart had eight points and a team-best seven rebounds for Firelands. Sophomore small forward Megan Sutton had eight points and two assists, while junior shooting guard Lexy Coggins scored six points off the bench.
A horrific second period doomed the Falcons, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Firelands led 7-4 after the first, but was outscored 26-7 in the second as it committed 10 turnovers and only managed five shots.
“We played really good defense tonight, really good defense,” Ross said. “The game started out kind of rough for us, so we knew we had to turn things around and pick it up. We kept their shooting percentage down the whole way by pressuring them everywhere on the court.”
The latter strategy worked wonders as the Falcons quickly became impatient and frustrated. Senior point guard Peyton Phillips, sophomore center Madison Sutton and Megan Sutton — all starters — picked up three fouls apiece in the first 13 minutes.
Phillips, whose 13.3 scoring average leads the team, never got on track and finished with three points on 1-of-6 shooting while being blanketed by the Bucks’ Gabby Glancy.
Freshman shooting guard Abbey Schmitz also was harassed from baseline to baseline, only managing three free throws. Buckeye senior Elizabeth Whetstone, who had six steals, guarded Schmitz.
“It all started up front with Elizabeth and Gabby,” Bucks coach Ron Clady said. “We emphasized that we needed Phillips and Schmitz guarded closely, and they stepped up and gave us everything they had.”
Buckeye’s lead eventually reached 25 points when Ross stole the ball under the Falcons basket and went coast to coast for a layup with 4:40 remaining. Firelands ended the game on a 6-0 run, including a crowd-pleasing basket by senior Siera Hess and two free throws from sophomore Grace Sherban.
Sophomore point guard Alyssa Beckett scored 10 points for the Bucks, while junior center Grace Allen had five points and a game-best 10 rebounds before fouling out while defending the Suttons.
The Falcons did force 23 Buckeye turnovers and won the rebounding battle 36-34. Schmitz, Phillips and senior center Isabel Solowiej each grabbed five boards.
“We can’t be satisfied with only beating the teams that we should beat,” Kudela said. “You can’t go through your whole career trying to be average, so we’ve got to go back to the drawing board after this one.”
Buckeye 55, Firelands 36
BUCKEYE (55): Madison Ross 5-2-12, Sydney Bell 2-0-5, Grace Allen 1-3-5, Gabby Glancy 3-2-8, Elizabeth Whetstone 2-0-4, Autumn Meyer 2-0-4, Alyssa Beckett 4-2-10, Courtney Keeler 2-1-5, Tatum Widenmeyer 1-0-2, Riley Vickerts 0-0-0. Totals 22-10-55.
FIRELANDS (36): Emily Stewart 3-1-8, Megan Sutton 2-4-8, Madison Sutton 0-1-1, Abbey Schmitz 0-3-3, Peyton Phillips 1-1-3, Lexy Coggins 2-2-6, MacKenzie Allspo 0-0-0, Isabel Solowiej 1-1-3, Siera Hess 1-0-2, Grace Sherban 0-2-2, Alaina Becker 0-0-0. Totals 10-15-36.
Buckeye 4 26 17 8 — 55
Firelands 7 7 14 8 — 36
Three-point goals: Buckeye 1-8 (Bell), Firelands 1-7 (Stewart). Rebounds: Buckeye 34 (Allen 10), Firelands 36 (Stewart 7). Assists: Buckeye 7 (Ross 3), Firelands 6 (Me.Sutton, Schmitz 2). Field goals: Buckeye 22-63, Firelands 10-39. Free throws: Buckeye 10-15, Firelands 15-21. Turnovers: Buckeye 23, Firelands 33. Total fouls: Buckeye 15, Firelands 16. Fouled out: Allen.
Junior varsity: Buckeye, 36-14