By Brad Morris
ASHVILLE — A cold spell from the field during the second half on Friday gave Teays Valley coach Trevor Younkin a feeling of déjà vu in a 44-40 Mid-State League Buckeye Division loss to visiting Liberty Union.
The Vikings made just one field goal over an 11-minute stretch of the second half and hit just three of their final 14 (21.4 percent) shots from the field.
“When we played Liberty Union back in November, we had a period in the fourth quarter where we didn’t score for four minutes (in a 40-33 loss), and that ultimately cost us,” Younkin said. “We preached to the girls that we couldn’t go through a similar drought, but that’s what ended up happening and more.
“I felt our girls played hard and competed, but Liberty Union did a better job of pressuring our shooters and we didn’t handle it as well as we needed to.”
Liberty Union (6-4, 4-2) maintained its hold on third in the league, behind defending champion Circleville (9-1, 5-0) and Fairfield Union (4-1, 3-0), by rallying from a nine-point deficit midway through the third quarter to sweep the season-series from Teays Valley (7-6, 3-3).
“I told our girls after the game that I was proud of the character and resolve they played with to rally back from that deficit and we also talked about the way they stepped up defensively,” said Liberty Union assistant coach Greg Glendenning, who was filling in for a quarantining coach Andy Schmitz. “Teays Valley is such a good three-point shooting team that it was vital we picked it up on defense and pressured their shooters. They did a nice job a couple of times of kicking for a three when we went to help, but overall our girls did a very nice job down the stretch.”
A pair of three-pointers from Megan Bush and one courtesy of Jenna Horsley put the Vikings ahead 31-22 midway through the third quarter.
Teays Valley went scoreless for the remainder of the period and the first 100 seconds of the fourth quarter, which gave Liberty Union plenty of time to run off 10 straight points.
Ember McClaskey had four points during the run and finished it off with a layup to give the Lions their first lead of the game at 32-31.
“Ember really stepped up and helped us scoring wise with some big baskets and also gave us some production rebounding the basketball,” Glendenning said.
Kennedy Younkin scored the lone field goal during the cold spell on a layup that momentarily put the Vikings back ahead by a point.
A putback and a pair of free throws courtesy of Abbie Riddle gave the Lions the lead for good at 36-34 with 4:47 remaining.
Delaney Peck followed with a bank shot and another putback from Riddle forced the Vikings to burn a timeout to stop the Lions’ momentum that had created a 40-34 advantage.
Bush ended the Vikings’ prolonged cold spell with a three from the left corner with 1:04 remaining to make it 40-37. Peck, however, answered for the Lions and drained three of four free throws to put the LU lead back up to six.
A three-pointer from Horsley brought the Vikings to within 43-40 with 4.9 seconds left, but the Lions successfully inbounded the basketball and Riddle split a pair of free throws to make the final 44-40.
Liberty Union ended the game on a 22-9 run and shot 10 of 18 (55.6 percent) from the field in the second half, compared to Teays Valley hitting on 6 of 19 (31.6 percent) attempts. The Lions were also 6 of 10 (60 percent) from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings were without the services of point guard Ashley DeWeese over the last half of the fourth quarter after she left the game due to taking an elbow to her head.
“That obviously impacted us because we had to use Megan Bush to get the ball to a shooter and she is normally one of our shooters,” Younkin said. “We have to step up better there and execute.”
As cold as the Vikings were in the second half, that’s how the Lions started the night by making just 2 of their first 16 (12.5 percent) shots.
Five points in the first quarter by Bush helped the Vikings to a 9-4 lead that they stretched to 17-4 with 4:50 remaining before halftime, thanks in part to a pair of transition baskets from Younkin.
“I was pleased with the energy we came out with and our girls did a nice job of getting the ball inside to Kennedy for some points and also hitting threes off our inside-out play or when we swung the basketball around,” Younkin said. “Defensively, we did a nice job of contesting everything Liberty Union put up.”
Caroline Berlecamp sparked the Lions by scoring nine points before halftime to send LU into the break trailing just 22-16.
“We settled down and started to execute better,” Glendenning said. “When you get down by double-digits, you can’t worry about that deficit. You have to get a stop, get a score and poke away at it like our girls did.”
Riddle led all scorers with 18 points for the Lions, including nine in the fourth quarter, McClaskey had 10 and Berlecamp added nine.
“Abbie is a multi-dimensional player and that allows us to do different things with her, like isolating or having her post-up,” Glendenning said. “Having a player like that takes the pressure off our other girls and then when we have players contribute like Caroline, Ember and Delaney did then that conversely takes pressure off Abbie.”
Bush paced the Vikings with 14 points to go with five rebounds, and Horsley and Younkin followed with nine points and five rebounds apiece.
The Lions travel to Pickerington Central today to take on Westerville South in the Martin Luther King Jr. Shootout, while the Vikings continue league play today with a trip to Logan Elm.
“We’re close and our girls continue to battle,” Younkin said. “I know they were frustrated with the loss, but this is another opportunity for us to learn and continue to improve as a basketball team.
“What we need is for one of our girls to step up and help carry us in crunch time during a game like this.”
Liberty Union 44,
Teays Valley 40
LIBERTY UNION — Abbie Riddle 7-3-18, Ember McClaskey 4-2-10, Delaney Peck 2-3-7, Caroline Berlekamp 4-1-9. Three-point goals — Abbie Riddle. Total — 17-37 9-14 44.
TEAYS VALLEY — Jenna Horsley 3-0-9, Kennedy Younkin 4-1-9, Ashley DeWeese 2-1-6, Megan Bush 5-0-14, Alyssa Horsley 1-0-2. Three-point goals — Megan Bush (4), Jenna Horsley (3) and Ashley DeWeese. Total — 15-46 2-3 40.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Liberty Union 4 12 12 16 44
Teays Valley 9 13 9 9 40
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