By Brad Morris
Don’t tell Liberty Union that Maddie Blakeman wasn’t feeling well on Saturday night.
The Lions, nor most of the fans in attendance, would have believed you after watching Circleville freshman drop a career-high 29 points and lead the host Tigers to a 70-37 Mid-State League Buckeye Division rout.
“Maddie was feeling under the weather, but I guess she just channeled her inner Michael Jordan flu game and just went off,” Circleville coach Brian Bigam said. “Maddie got hot early and just seemed to drill about everything.”
The Tigers took charge right from the opening tip and finished the first quarter with a commanding 21-6 lead.
Maddie Blakeman buried a trio of three-pointers en route to 13 points during the period and her older sister, Morgan Blakeman, chipped in five points for good measure.
“We weren’t happy after only scoring 37 points earlier in the week against Amanda-Clearcreek, so we made a slight adjustment to our offense,” Bigam said. “We wanted to make Liberty Union come out and guard the perimeter, and our girls did a nice job of sharing the basketball, getting some drives to the basket and also some kickouts that Maddie was able to knock down.
“We also did a much better job of handling the basketball and working against pressure than we have been. We broke Liberty Union’s pressure several times and got easy baskets on the other end.”
Circleville was more balanced scoring wise in the second quarter with five players pitching in for an 18-point period.
Gabby McConnell led the way with seven points, Faith Yancey accounted for four and Maddie Blakeman chipped in three, as the Tigers went into the locker room with a 39-13 advantage over the Lions (2-4, 1-3).
Circleville held Bowling Green signee and Liberty Union senior guard Abbie Riddle to just six points in the first half. Riddle scored nine more in the final two quarters of play to finish with a team-high 15 points.
“Maddux did a phenomenal job of guarding Abbie in the first half, using her length, competing well and making everything tough on Abbie,” Bigam said. “Abbie is a tremendous basketball player, so for Maddux to hold her to a couple of field goals that hit the back iron, sat there and dropped in was something else.”
The Tigers put four players into double figures. Yancey followed Maddie Blakeman’s career night with 15 points of her own, McConnell accounted for 12 and Morgan Blakeman added 10.
“We shot the ball awfully well,” Bigam said. “I know we’re not going to do that every night, but if we can have the balance that we had, take care of the basketball and compete hard on the defensive end, I think we can do some good things moving forward.
“Faith Yancey had a fantastic night on both ends of the floor. Her effort, grit and determination are just fantastic, and she plays with an unbelievable intensity level. Faith is our spark plug.”
Circleville (4-2, 3-2) hosts Logan on Wednesday for a non-league game and then travels to Teays Valley on Friday to resume league competition.
Liberty Union 37
LIBERTY UNION — Brooklyn Angelo 0-1-1, Morgan Love 2-0-5, Payton Hochradel 2-0-5, Abbie Riddle 6-2-15, Paige Devoe 0-1-1, Ella Brown 1-0-2, Delaney Peck 1-2-4, Kat Aubrey 1-0-2, Emily Blackstone 1-0-2. Three-point goals — Morgan Love, Payton Hochradel and Abbie Riddle. Total — 14 6-16 37.
CIRCLEVILLE — Morgan Blakeman 4-1-10, Faith Yancey 7-1-15, Maddie Blakeman 10-6-29, Maddux Bigam 2-0-4, Gabby McConnell 4-2-12. Three-point goals — Maddie Blakeman (3), Gabby McConnell (2) and Morgan Blakeman. Total — 27 10-18 70.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Liberty Union 6 7 15 9 37
Circleville 21 18 18 13 70