By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
The Edgewood girls basketball team had struggled much of the season with starting games well and taking care of the basketball. In recent games, the Warriors had made strides in those areas, but it all unraveled in an 81-32 loss to West Geauga in Division II sectional semifinal at Pymatuning Valley on Monday night.
“As of late, we’d done a better job against the pressure,” Edgewood coach Dave McCoy said. “We’d played three teams who are good at the press and it didn’t affect us.
“We were very tight (tonight). We were tighter, probably, than normal.”
The sixth-seeded Wolverines (10-12) will play second-seeded Chagrin Falls — a Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division rival — in a sectional championship game Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It’s going to be a battle,” West Geauga coach Cheryl Rye said. “We know each other well. We’re 10 minutes apart and we have to travel an hour to play each other. It’s going to be a tough game.
“I’m anxious to see how it will turn out. We’ve played them pretty well in the past. They’re the two seed and we’ll go after them with all we have.”
Having played the Tigers twice during the season in league play, Rye is fully aware of what the Wolverines are up against.
“They are a good team,” she said. “We’re very respectful of the type of team they have.”
West Geauga seemed intent on beating the Warriors right from the opening tip.
“We wanted to make a statement,” Rye said. “We wanted to take care of business. We tried to focus on Edgewood, but we also wanted to work on some things we needed to do. We were trying to take care of business and prepare for our next game.”
After Alyssa Johnson scored 1:20 into the game, the Warriors (3-19) were tied, 4-4. West Geauga, however, used a 23-4 run to close the period and take control.
The Wolverines made 15 steals and forced 19 turnovers in the first eight minutes. They outscored Edgewood, 25-6, in the second period and led, 52-14 at the half.
Edgewood turned the ball over 30 times in the half, 25 on steals by the Wolverines.
“We’ve been working on our press the past couple of weeks,” Rye said. “We made a tweak here and there. The kids are starting to buy in. They’re seeing that defense can create offense and it can lead to easy baskets.
“We reached a little bit toward the end of the half and got called for some fouls, but overall, I’m pretty happy with our full-court press.”
Edgewood turned the ball over 42 times in the game, a result of 33 steals by the West Geauga defenders.
“We forced a lot of things,” McCoy said. “We couldn’t get into any kind of routine. When you start pressing, you get out of your chi. That’s the only way I can express it. Like I’ve said before, it’s not a matter of effort. It’s a matter of execution. That’s all. We didn’t execute.”
Rye managed to get valuable tournament experience for her reserves, getting 10 players in the game in the first quarter and continuing to rotate everyone in throughout the game.
“Our bench is athletic,” Rye said. “We go 10 deep. We tried to wear (Edgewood) down and use that to our advantage.
“Basically, our five starters have experience. After that, we’re very green. The seniors have done a nice job taking the younger players under their wing. Even in the first quarter, we got 10 girls into the game. That was important to get them in there right from the beginning.”
Brianne Goodrich led the Wolverines with 20 points, Nicole Leonette and Marley Praprost each netted 11, Caitlin Curtis scored nine and Joelle Baliker added eight.
Praprost led the defense with eight steals and Curtis and Tiffany Heath each had six.
Haley Holden and Cortney Humphrey each had six points and 10 rebounds to pace the Warriors. Johnson added five points and six boards and Ronnie Brady netted five points.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.