Aces use different plan to defeat Bulldogs

Amanda-Clearcreek snaps seven-game skid against Bloom-Carroll

Check out the photo gallery of the game from Scott Iles Photography

By Brad Morris

After watching Bloom-Carroll junior guard Emily Bratton scorch the nets for 41 points last month in a 64-29 loss, Amanda-Clearcreek coach Tim Leist promised his players that he would have a different game plan for the rematch.

“I took responsibility for that, and I told the girls after we lost the game that I did not have them prepared well enough and that we would do some things differently when we played Bloom-Carroll again in the second round of league play,” he said.

The Aces checked Bratton to 6 of 16 (37.5 percent) shooting and 17 points in the rematch on Tuesday to stun the visiting Bulldogs 46-37 in a Mid-State League Buckeye Division game.

“Emily is an exceptional player, and she does an outstanding job at getting to the basket, scoring and creating for Bloom-Carroll,” Leist said. “We doubled Emily on out of bounds plays to deny her the basketball and made (Marissa) Wilkinson bring the ball up the court.

“We also did a nice job of face-guarding and freshman Kaylie Wilson took a couple of charges in the paint that didn’t get Emily into foul trouble, but maybe made her be a little more careful about when she decided to attack the rim. We felt like if we could hold Emily under 20 points that we would have a pretty decent shot at winning, and our girls stepped up with a tremendous effort defensively.”

Amanda-Clearcreek’s Emily Buckley eyes a free throw attempt during the fourth quarter. Photos courtesy of Scott Iles Photography

The Aces held Bloom-Carroll to 14 of 47 (29.8 percent) shooting, including hitting just a trio of three-pointers on 21 (14.3 percent) attempts.

“Bloom-Carroll is a streaky team shooting the basketball,” Leist said. “They can shoot you right out of the gym, like they did to us the first time, or they can miss a lot, like they did when I scouted them earlier this season when they had to hold on and beat Teays Valley (34-28) in the first round.”

A key to their defensive execution was making shots on offense, and the Aces (10-8, 5-6) had Rachel Weaver and Hailey Sowers step up to combine for 26 points.

“For us to be as successful as we were on defense, it actually started on the offensive side of the court and being able to make enough shots, so we could set our out of bounds defense and deny Emily the basketball,” Leist said. “Emily Buckley scored 10 points for us and had a nice game, and we had Rachel and Hailey really step up and have their best games of the season.”

Sowers shot 5 of 8 (62.5 percent) from the field en route to 14 points and Weaver was 6 of 9 (66.7 percent) and scored 12 points.

“We talk to Rachel about being confident and attacking the basket. The worst thing that can happen is you miss a shot. Everyone misses a few shots here and there,” Leist said. “Rachel did a great job of attacking the rim and scoring some big baskets for us.”

The Aces entered the second half with a 17-14 lead and were able to stem a brief push by the Bulldogs (12-7, 9-3) when they went ahead.

Amanda-Clearcreek’s Hailey Sowers knocks down one of her two triples during the third quarter of a 46-37 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over Bloom-Carroll. Photos courtesy of Scott Iles Photography

Sowers knocked down a pair of critical threes to put the Aces back in front and led a 17-point outburst in the third quarter by making 3 of 4 (75 percent) shots and scoring eight points. Weaver added four points on a pair of baskets and Addy Pugh hit a three that helped the Aces take a 34-25 lead into the fourth quarter.

“Bloom-Carroll was starting to get a little momentum there early in the third and Hailey comes up with two absolutely clutch threes to give us the momentum right back and then we went on a run to extend our lead out,” Leist said. “Addy Pugh also came off the bench during the third and hit a big three of her own.”

Four points apiece by Buckley and Weaver in the fourth quarter and two free throws courtesy of Taylor Evans helped the Aces snap a seven-game losing skid to the Bulldogs dating back to 2019.

“Taylor ran a nice floor game for us and made two critical free throws there in the fourth,” Leist said. “Bloom-Carroll was trying to take her away and that opened up some opportunities for her other teammates that they took advantage of.

“This is one of the proudest moments I’ve had as head coach, because we defeated a Division II Central District championship caliber basketball team, because we played so well as a team on in every facet of the game.”

Amanda-Clearcreek’s Rachel Weaver scores underneath during the fourth quarter of a 46-37 win over Bloom-Carroll. Photos courtesy of Scott Iles Photography

Leist hopes the win gives the Aces some momentum as they wrap up the regular-season next week and get ready for tournament play. The Aces continue league play on Thursday with a trip to Logan Elm.

“We’ve had a tough time since the calendar flipped over to 2023,” Leist said. “We’ve put together some good spurts of basketball, like when we led Teays Valley 30-12 at halftime earlier this month, but we couldn’t finish. Then we had some tough losses to Circleville and Hamilton Township, where we struggled with our execution.

“I told the girls that the final chapter on this season hasn’t been written yet and to believe in yourself and each other, because good things will happen. And they did. We went out and beat a district championship caliber basketball team because we executed and played well as a team. If we can build off this win, I like what could be ahead of us.”

Amanda-Clearcreek 46,

Bloom-Carroll 37

BLOOM-CARROLL — Tessa Brooks 2-0-4, Emily Bratton 6-4-17, Emma Sorrell 1-0-2, Marissa Wilkinson 2-0-6, Sophia Haughn 1-0-2, Alyssa Brown 2-2-6. Three-point goals — Wilkinson (2) and Bratton. Total — 14-47 6-10 37.
AMANDA-CLEARCREEK —. Emily Buckley 2-4-10, Rachel Weaver 6-0-12, Allie Leist 1-0-3, Hailey Sowers 5-2-14, Taylor Evans 0-2-2, Kaylie Wilson 1-0-2, Addy Pugh 1-0-3. Three-point goals — Sowers (2), Buckley (2), Leist and Pugh. Total — 16-42 8-12 46.

Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Bloom-Carroll 7 7 11 12 37
Am.-Clearcreek 11 6 17 12 46

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