took advantage of offensive mismatches to spark a big first half run
that led his team to a 56-40 non-conference win over visiting Jackson
Saturday night. Lydia Bridenbaugh was the cause of those mismatches as
the senior scored a game-high 33 points.
CHILLICOTHE – Huntington coach Steve Bridenbaugh continuously mixed his defenses and took advantage of offensive mismatches to spark a big first half run that led his team to a 56-40 non-conference win over visiting Jackson Saturday night. Lydia Bridenbaugh was the cause of those mismatches as the senior scored a game-high 33 points.
Bridenbaugh, the two-time Scioto Valley Conference Player of the Year, converted on 20-of-21 free throw attempts forcing Jackson into foul trouble and lifting her Lady Huntsmen to a comfortable win in the season’s opening game.
“I thought the kids did a nice job executing defensively,” said Coach Bridenbaugh. “I wanted to mix it up and give them some different looks. We played a lot of people tonight and we still have a few players that need to get healthy. Overall it’s a good win and a good way to start the season.”
With about a minute left to play in the first quarter and Huntington leading 12-9, Bridenbaugh was hit in the act of knocking down a three-pointer and once she added the free throw the four-point play had Huntington up 16-9 at the end of quarter number one.
Jackson was able to trim the Huntington lead to 21-18 about halfway through the second quarter, but foul trouble started to set-in on Jackson sending a couple of starters to the bench and putting Huntington in the bonus. Bridenbaugh took full advantage as she used her versatility to get to the free throw line. Bridenbaugh beat the bigger defender off the dribble while taking the smaller, quicker Jackson defenders down low making it near impossible for Jackson to stop her. In the second-quarter alone, Bridenbaugh was 12-13 from the line as the charity stripe helped Huntington finish the half on a 13-0 run making the previously mentioned 21-18 lead a 34-18 halftime advantage.
“I always try to look for a mismatch,” said Bridenbaugh. “Depending on who I have guarding me, I can go inside or out and try to score or get to the line.”
During the late first half run, Huntington got key contributions from a variety of people. With Huntington’s top post presence Jessica Fraley forced to the bench with foul trouble, the Huntsmen backcourt picked up the slack. Manessa Zimmerman knocked down an early three-pointer and Bridgett Neighbors recorded two steals, dished out three assists, and grabbed four rebounds in just the first half. Kassie Large also jumpstarted a defense that led to many easy transition opportunities for Huntington. Large had a game-high seven steals and dished out three assist.
“That’s my role,” said Large of her defensive efforts. “I am not much of an offensive player, so it is my job to make things happen defensively and then get it to my teammates that can score.”
After halftime, Jackson did start to have success containing Bridenbaugh and the rest of the Huntington perimeter; however, Fraley returned and wasted little time making an impact. Fraley, who had no points or rebounds in the first half, scored 11 points and pulled down seven boards in the second half, highlighted by the senior connecting on seven of eight from the free throw line.
“Jess (Jessica Fraley) was in foul trouble most of the first half and we really wanted to establish her early in the second half,” said Coach Bridenbaugh. “We really need Jess to play well and score for us to be successful. I thought she gave us a big lift in the second half tonight.”
“Getting in the early foul trouble was very frustrating,” said Fraley. “It puts a lot of pressure on my teammates to have to move around and do different things. In the second half, I just wanted to get back out there and help the team in whatever way I could.”
Jackson’s Kelsey Martin connected on a jump shot from the right wing with 3:10 left in the game to cut the Huntington lead to 49-40 marking the first time the Huntington lead was less than 10 since midway through the second period. This is as close as Jackson would get as Huntington reached the bonus on the ensuing possession allowing Huntington to live on the line over the game’s final three minutes.
Bridenbaugh was a perfect 6-6 down the stretch at the line. The Huntington star also recorded six rebounds and three steals.
“I am comfortable handling the ball in those situations,” said Bridenbaugh when asked about the late game time-and-score situation. “I just try to take care of the ball, avoid the five-second count, and run the clock.”
Coach Jay Martin’s Jackson (0-1) squad did shoot 48% from the floor but could not overcome 24 turnovers and a night filled with foul trouble. Martin led the Ironladies with 17 points while Kaley Fulks added eight points and six rebounds. Point guard Jarin Wasch dished out four assists and grabbed five rebounds.
Jackson will return to action Tuesday night in the Ironladies home-opener when they welcome Ironton Rock Hill. On that same night Huntington (1-0) opens SVC play when it hits the road for the first time traveling to Southeastern.
“We just have to keep working hard to get better,” said Large. “Obviously we would like to win the SVC, but we know it is going to be tough, so we just have to keep playing hard.”
In other season-openers in the southeast it was Frankfort Adena getting a 45-32 win over Washington Court House. Unioto got a 70-33 win over Teays Valley while Wheelersburg rolled to a 59-29 victory over Zane Trace.
Southern Hills League member Fairfield Leesburg defeated Bainbridge Paint Valley 68-61 despite a school-record 43 points from Whitney Hollon. The Paint Valley sophomore hit 24-of-31 from the FT line and connected on five triples in the losing effort.