third quarter and early into the fourth had the Lady Pioneers up nine
and seemingly in total control. But host Paint Valley answered with a
12-0 run of its own to regain the lead and eventually hang on for a
45-41 Scioto Valley Conference win.
Paint Valley controlled the first half leading by as much as eight, and it enjoyed a 20-15 halftime advantage. Zane Trace turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter outscoring the Bearcats by the before mentioned 17-2, but during that run, serious foul trouble started to set in for Zane Trace opening the door for Paint Valley. An Abbie Walls three-pointer, a Whitney Hollon old-fashioned three, four straight points from Tristan Rumfield and two free throws from Erica Barker turned a 33-24 deficit into a 36-33 advantage.
Zane Trace would regain the lead briefly at 37-36 on a jumper from sophomore Natasha Harrington, but Hollon answered with a pair of free throws to regain a 38-37 lead – an advantage that PV would not relinquish again.
“We would have loved to been able to keep the pressure coming in the third quarter, but we just got into major foul trouble,” said Zane Trace coach Joe Dunkle. “We eventually had three foul out and had another two or three with four. I never doubt our effort. Our kids play hard, but right now, we just are not getting to the spots.”
Zane Trace’s defensive style is something Paint Valley was quite aware of coming into Thursday night’s game, and despite 21 turnovers, Paint Valley head coach Jeff Everhart was pleased with how his young team continued to compete hard even when down nine early in the fourth quarter.
“We talked about toughness – both physically and mentally – as being the key tonight,” said Everhart. “We knew Zane Trace was going to come at us aggressively. We knew it was going to be extremely physical, and I thought for the most part we handled their pressure well.
“I was also pleased with how well we finished at the free throw line,” the first-year PV coach continued. “We have shot 76 free throws in two games (both wins) against Zane Trace this year. That is unheard of, but again, ZT is so physical and they play so hard that you better be ready to handle the basketball when you play against them.”
Paint Valley shot 21-of 30 from the charity stripe while Zane Trace only found its way to the line nine times making five.
“Jeff does a nice job of preparing his girls,” said Dunkle. “Paint Valley gives us some match-up problems because they have four people that can attack you off the dribble.”
Paint Valley was led by Hollon with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Rumfield added 12 points. The Bearcats also received a nice game in the post from senior Bree Knauff. Knauff scored eight points and grabbed nine boards and connected on two key free throws late in the game.
“It is a big lift having Tristan back,” said Everhart of his junior forward who had missed the entire season before coming back a couple weeks ago. “She just makes us better in so many areas because she is such a good all-around player. She is a good free throw shooter, good rebounder, and her experience as a third-year junior is just so valuable for our young team.
“It also takes a lot of pressure off of Whitney,” Everhart continued. “Whitney is no longer seeing the box-in-one as much, and it is helping everyone to get more involved in the offense.”
Zane Trace did not have a player in double-figures, but got eight points apiece from freshman Erin Dailey and senior Ashley Arnold as well as seven from freshman Sierra Sigman.
“We just have to rebound and get back after it next week,” said Dunkle. “I told the girls that if we do not pick it up our season would be over on February 6th (referring to his team’s first-round sectional game against Belpre).
“I still have a lot of faith in this team,” the ZT coach continued. “This group of girls works extremely hard. One of our early goals was to go five-hundred in the league and compete for a top-half spot. We know it will be tough, but we are at 5-7 with two games remaining so we still have a shot to reach that goal.”
Zane Trace (5-13, 5-7) is off until next Thursday when it travels to Westfall before hosting Huntington next Saturday for senior night. Earlier this season, Zane Trace was responsible for Huntington’s only loss of the season.
The win moves Paint Valley to 5-10 overall and 2-10 in the SVC. The Lady Bearcats complete their league schedule with road trips to Unioto and Southeastern next week.
“Zane Trace is a solid team in which their overall record is a little deceiving because of their great non-league schedule,” said Everhart. “This is a good win for us. Hopefully, it can help us build some momentum heading toward the tournament.”
NOTE: The Scioto Valley showdown of 15-1 teams – Huntington at Unioto – was postponed until Monday night. In the other action that did take place, Southeastern got 23 points from Brittany Leeson in a 47-30 win over Westfall and Adena got 23 points from Ashley Jordan in a 44-21 win over Piketon.