By Brad Morris
It wasn’t the type of adversity that coach Brian Bigam wants to see the Circleville Tigers face again this season, but he was happy that he could turn to a senior to provide a much-needed answer.
After the Tigers squandered a 16-point lead and trailed for the first time Saturday night, Morgan Blakeman stepped up and knocked down a trio of triples. The spurt to end the first half allowed the Tigers to regain the lead for good and defeat visiting Logan Elm 45-34 in a Mid-State League Buckeye Division contest.
“That was big time,” Bigam said. “We went from having all the momentum to Logan Elm having all the momentum and we needed someone to step up and change that. Morgan knocked down three critical threes right before halftime to stem the run Logan Elm was on and give us the lead back.”
Morgan Blakeman led all scorers with 16 points and also grabbed six rebounds for the Tigers. Maddie Blakeman accounted for 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, Gabby McConnell contributed seven points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Faith Yancey turned in six points, five rebounds and five steals.
It seemed as though the Tigers could do no wrong in the opening five minutes of the game, as they raced out to a 19-3 lead, using full-court pressure to force Logan Elm into five turnovers during the run and connecting on 8 of their first 13 (61.5 percent) shots.
Morgan Blakeman, Maddie Blakeman and McConnell contributed five points apiece during the run and Yancey scored the other four points.
“Our girls came out and established a tempo that made Logan Elm uncomfortable, using our pressure to affect them and create some turnovers and transition opportunities,” Bigam said. “When we weren’t in transition, the girls did a nice job of moving the basketball and creating open shots that they knocked down.”
Starting four freshmen and a sophomore, the Braves showed maturity and the growth they have made as a team this season, being able to take the opening blow and being able to respond.
Logan Elm countered with an 18-2 run that featured six points from Kimmy Pety, and five apiece by Kiki Ingram and Hannah Rhoads. The Braves scored on their final five possessions during the run, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Petty and a triple to the right of the top of the key off the shooting hands of Ingram, staking the Braves to their only lead of the night at 21-20 with three minutes remaining.
“We came out of the gates slow and Circleville did a nice job of executing on both ends of the floor,” Logan Elm coach Jennifer Blue said. “Once our girls settled into the game and did a better job of taking care of the basketball, we were able to go in-and-out a little bit on offense and create some good shot opportunities that we were able to knock down.
“Our girls are going to continue and battle, but what we have to do is sustain our runs longer in a game and be a little more consistent throughout the game with our execution for us to take the next step and have opportunities to close out games.”
Morgan Blakeman provided the answer for the Tigers, drilling two consecutive threes from the right wing and then knocking down another triple from the right wing with two seconds remaining, sending the Tigers into halftime with a 30-21 lead.
“We started settling for threes instead of using our ball movement to create good shots from three where we have some momentum,” Bigam said. “We took a gut check right there, which this is a Circleville and Logan Elm game and those are going to happen, but they regrouped, and we started creating better shot opportunities.”
Back-to-back baskets to close the third quarter courtesy of Maddux Bigam allowed the Tigers to stretch their advantage to 41-26 entering the final period of play, where CHS led by no fewer than 10 points.
Circleville was 15 of 51 (29.4 percent) from the field compared to Logan Elm making 11 of 40 (27.5 percent) attempts and held a 29-19 advantage on the glass. The Braves finished with 25 turnovers and the Tigers tallied 20.
“We missed a lot of good shots from the field,” Bigam said. “Any win over a rival is a good win, but we have some things we need to work on, like knocking down more shots and taking better care of the basketball.”
Ingram paced the Braves with 10 points, Petty contributed nine points and three assists, Rhoads had eight points and three steals and Claire King accounted for four points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Tigers (11-3, 7-3) travel to Athens on Monday for a non-league game, while the Braves (4-12, 0-9) venture outside of league play a day later to entertain Chillicothe.
Circleville 45, Logan Elm 34
LOGAN ELM — Kimmy Petty 3-0-9, Hannah Rhoads 3-0-8, Enaja Fischer 1-0-2, Kiki Ingram 2-5-10, Claire King 2-0-4, Kennedy Groff 0-1-1. Three-point goals — Petty (3), Rhoads (2) and Ingram. Total — 11-40 6-10 34.
CIRCLEVILLE — Morgan Blakeman 5-2-16, Faith Yancey 3-0-6, Maddie Blakeman 4-3-12, Maddux Bigam 2-0-4, Gabby McConnell 3-0-7. Three-point goals — Morgan Blakeman (4), Maddie Blakeman and McConnell. Total — 15-51 5-8 45.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Logan Elm 6 15 5 8 34
Circleville 19 11 11 4 45