By Brad Morris
Losing senior guard Jaylah Captain to a season-ending torn ACL last week at Bloom-Carroll was certainly a blow to the Circleville Tigers.
Captain, who earned honorable mention All-Ohio honors a year ago, entered that game second on the team in scoring (12.2 points) and rebounds (4), in addition to handling the basketball.
“We’re still learning to play without Jaylah and that’s going to take some time and work to do,” Circleville coach Steve Kalinoski said. “Our kids are working hard and making some adjustments.
“We have a lot of games coming up over the next three weeks, so it’s important we continue to work and get a little better each day.”
The Tigers used a stingy defense and a pair of game separating spurts on Thursday to earn a 42-26 win over host Logan Elm in Mid-State League Buckeye Division action.
Circleville held Logan Elm to 12 of 36 (33.3 percent) from the field and to single-digits in every quarter. The Tigers also forced Logan Elm into 18 turnovers, including six turnovers in the first quarter and again in the third.
“With Kenzie picking up a couple of fouls in the first quarter, we decided to play more 2-3 zone and pack it in a little bit,” Kalinoski said. “Logan Elm is not a big transition team, so we wanted to speed them up coming into the game. We haven’t pressured a whole lot this season, but we extended our defense and that forced a few turnovers.”
Circleville senior Kenzie McConnell battled foul trouble for the entire night, but still led all scorers with 20 points on 8 of 11 (72.7 percent) shooting while also adding nine rebounds and a pair of blocks to her ledger. Morgan Blakeman accounted for eight points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists, and Gabby McConnell also turned in eight points to go with six rebounds.
The Tigers opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run, kicked off by four points from Gabby McConnell that was followed by seven markers from her older sister, Kenzie, including a three-pointer from the left wing that capped the surged and gave the Tigers a 21-8 lead with three minutes remaining before halftime.
Logan Elm closed the quarter with a pair of baskets from Ashton Fox and Brynn Griffith to trim the CHS lead down to 21-12 at the break.
Circleville scored the first 12 points to open the second half, led by Kenzie McConnell tallying six points and Blakeman contributing four, to take a commanding 33-12 lead.
“Our defense created a few turnovers there and we were able to get out in transition a little bit and get on a nice run,” Kalinoski said. “Logan Elm cut it down to nine going into halftime, so we wanted our girls to start the half strong and not let them back into the game.”
Logan Elm had its first nine possessions of the half end on five turnovers and four missed shots before it finally broke through on a basket by Griffith.
“We did a good job of competing and playing hard, but we’re still at a point where we are having too many breakdowns against really good teams to have a chance to win one of these games,” Logan Elm coach John Denen said. “We didn’t rebound the basketball that well in the first half but we did a better job in the second. Then Circleville turns around and beats us in transition more in the second half.
“We also had some spurts where we had trouble handling the basketball. We’re missing one of our ball-handlers right now and that would have helped against their pressure.”
Circleville was a stellar 9 of 10 (90 percent) at the free throw line and Logan Elm hit 2 of 8 attempts (25 percent).
Griffith paced the Braves with eight points and eight rebounds. Bre Williams and Ashton Fox followed with six points apiece, with Fox also pulling down five rebounds. Anna Johnson added seven rebounds.
“Bre gave us some of her best minutes yet and then I felt like Anna really competed hard and crashed the boards,” Denen said.
Kalinoski felt the Tigers did a good job of containing the 6-foot-4 Griffith.
“Brynn is a strong post player who is hard to defend, so holding her to eight points was pretty good,” he said. “I felt our perimeter guards did a nice job of getting into Logan Elm’s ball-handlers a little bit and making it tougher for them to make the pass into the post to Brynn and Ashton.”
Both teams hit the road on Saturday to continue league play, as the Tigers (10-2, 6-0) take on Amanda-Clearcreek and the Braves (4-6, 3-5) tangle with Fairfield Union.
Logan Elm 26
CIRCLEVILLE — Faith Yancey 1-0-2, Alaina Francis 1-0-2, Morgan Blakeman 2-4-8, Gabby McConnell 3-2-8, Lily Winter 1-0-2, Kenzie McConnell 8-3-20. Three-point goals — Kenzie McConnell. Total — 16-49 9-10 42.
LOGAN ELM — Hannah Taylor 1-0-2, Riley Schultz 1-1-3, Anna Johnson 0-1-1, Bre Williams 3-0-6, Ashton Fox 3-0-6, Brynn Griffith 4-0-8. Total — 12-36 2-8 26.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Circleville 10 11 14 7 42
Logan Elm 6 6 5 9 26
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