By Brad Morris
A strong start to the second half on Tuesday allowed Circleville to pull away from visiting Bloom-Carroll and claim a 46-32 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win.
“We were outscored during the third quarter in our first two games, so that’s something we wanted to change,” Circleville coach Steve Kalinoski said. “We always feel the first few minutes of the third quarter are critical to the game.”
Jaylah Captain had 11 of her game-high 15 points to help lead the Tigers’ charge in the second half, while also adding six rebounds and three steals. Kenzie McConnell posted an impressive stat line of 11 points, nine rebounds, eight blocks and six assists.
“We know teams are going to try and take away Kenzie by doing different things, but she’s a very unselfish player and was able to find the open man,” Kalinoski said. “Kenzie had a strong all-around game and then Jaylah gave us a nice boost there in the second half.”
A three-point heave from half-court by Emily Bratton to beat the halftime buzzer gave the Bulldogs a lift going into the locker room, trailing 24-18.
The Tigers quickly recaptured energy to open the second half with Captain scoring seven straight points, with a pair of steals generating two transition opportunities the senior guard cashed in on.
A jumper by Logan Jones with three minutes remaining in the third quarter gave the Tigers a comfortable 33-20 lead.
“Our defense came away with a couple of turnovers to help get that run going and it was nice to pull away some against a good team,” Kalinoski said.
Bloom-Carroll cut its deficit to 35-28 early in the third quarter on a layup from Alyssa Brown, but that’s as close as the Bulldogs could come for the rest of the night.
Circleville rattled off seven straight points closed by a steal and layup from Captain to give the Tigers their biggest lead of the game at 44-28 with 2:02 remaining.
Missing sophomore guard Morgan Blakeman to contact tracing, Faith Yancey, Gabby McConnell, Lily Winter and Jones stepped up and contributed 16 points in the winning effort. Winter also accounted for six rebounds.
“Gabby and Faith both gave us some solid minutes and Faith is one of those kids we rely on defensively,” Kalinoski said. “We sent Lily down to play a couple of reserve quarters. I know she didn’t like that, but she played hard there and carried it into the varsity by giving us some good minutes. Logan has stepped it up on defense the last couple of games and knocked down a couple of big shots.
“With not getting a summer, we’re still fitting the pieces together but we know we are going to need everyone to contribute if we want to get to where we want to be down the road.”
The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 51.7 points, but were held to an early season low in points on 11 of 45 (24.4 percent) shooting.
Bratton paced the Bulldogs with 10 points and Reese Pittman added nine.
“Bloom-Carroll was coming off a good win over Liberty Union where they hit 11 three-pointers, so we knew we had to get out on their shooters,” Kalinoski said. “I felt we made Bratton and Pittman really work for their points. We communicated well on defense, we fought through screens and did more of the little things that I’m not sure we did in our first two games against a team that is going to win a lot of games.”
The Tigers rebounded from a 3 of 12 (25 percent) start from the field to shoot 17 of 38 (44.7 percent).
Circleville held a 29-20 advantage on the boards. The Tigers had 14 turnovers to nine for the Bulldogs.
Bloom-Carroll (3-1, 2-1) hosts Harvest Prep on Thursday for a non-league game, while Circleville (3-0, 3-0) is slated to continue league play on Saturday at Liberty Union.
BLOOM-CARROLL — Reese Pittman 4-0-9, Emily Bratton 2-4-10, Carley Bryant 1-2-4, Alexis Highfield 2-0-5, Alyssa Brown 1-0-2, Ava Shaw 1-0-2. Three-point goals — Emily Bratton (2), Reese Pittman and Alexis Highfield. Total — 11-45 6-6 32.
CIRCLEVILLE — Faith Yancey 2-0-4, Logan Jones 3-0-7, Alaina Francis 1-0-2, Gabby McConnell 1-0-3, Lily Winter 2-0-4, Jaylah Captain 5-4-15, Kenzie McConnell 3-5-11. Three-point goals — Logan Jones, Gabby McConnell and Jaylah Captain. Total — 17-38 9-13 46.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Bloom-Carroll 8 10 6 8 32
Circleville 11 13 11 11 46
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