Chucta powers BW past Lady Barons, 48-36
By ERIC CLINE
For The Sunbury News
When a team isn’t shooting the lights out of the gym, turnovers become more and more important to victory.
Such was the case last Tuesday (December 11) night as the Big Walnut Golden Eagles cleaned up their possessions and used runs in the final three quarters for a 48–36 non-league victory over the Buckeye Valley Barons at Buckeye Valley High School.
Both Big Walnut (3–1) and Buckeye Valley (3–2) had difficulty holding onto the ball in the opening period, each committing five turnovers, but the Barons were still able to knock down three-point goals and take a 12–4 lead after one period.
After that, things changed dramatically. The Golden Eagles had just 12 turnovers after that, including just six in the final two quarters, while Buckeye Valley committed 23 miscues in that same span, including 10 in a second quarter that saw Big Walnut come back to take a 15–14 lead midway through the second quarter.
“We’re still working on some things, but I thought we did a better job of not turning the ball over,” Big Walnut coach Bob Scott said. “We had a little different lineup in tonight and still did it a little too much in the beginning, but we started playing better defense and running the offense a little better.”
“We stopped taking care of the basketball, which led to them picking up a few easy points,” Buckeye Valley coach Landon Fraker said. “We didn’t get our rotations down quite like we wanted, and their length caused us a lot of problems on the offense end. We did all right defensively, but offensively, we just had trouble scoring.”
The Big Walnut defense greatly helped its reversal of fortune, holding the Barons to their three second quarter points and to just seven points total in a span of just over 13 minutes between the second and third quarters, despite committing a rash of fouls.
“We let (Buckeye Valley sophomore guard (Maddie) Oberle have a few too many open looks for three, but outside of that, we did a pretty good job on defense,” Scott said. “We had a few too many fouls. We were a little aggressive on defense and I told the girls (the officials) were calling them tight and you can’t be that aggressive. On another night, it might be different.”
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles began to find holes in the Baron defense, especially in the second half. Big Walnut broke a 19-all tie with a 9–0 run to take a 28–19 lead with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
“The defense was pretty good in the first half, but after the game, we talked as coaches about what happened to our defense in the second half,” Fraker said. “It seemed our defense got a little stagnant when they started on that third quarter run and I should have changed things up a little to put more pressure on them.”
Buckeye Valley would bounce back, however, cutting the Big Walnut lead to three points, 30–27, just before the end of the quarter, then got a three-pointer from Oberle 10 seconds into the fourth to trim the deficit to just two points, 32–30.
But the Golden Eagles pushed the lead to double digits after that on a pair of jumpers from senior Emily Chucta, a three-ball from senior Samantha Klinedinst and a free throw from sophomore Makenna Hammond.
Oberle buried another three to stop the Big Walnut run, but a foul shot and bucket from junior post Sara Petty negated the triple, and Big Walnut went five of eight from the line after that to close things out.
Chucta topped all scorers with 16 points, adding four rebounds and two assists.
“I thought Emily played pretty well,” Scott said. “She struggled a little early, especially from the foul line, but once she knocked down a couple shots, we told her to go strong to the basket and get to the line because the refs weren’t going to bail her out.
“We still have to make foul shots and we still have to shoot a little better (from the floor), but we got back on a winning track. That was the key thing.”
Petty and fellow junior post Skylar Fleak added 9 points each, Petty adding 5 rebounds plus an assist and Fleak hauling down 4 boards and dishing out a pair of dimes. Hammond also had 6 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds.
Oberle and Linn accounted for 67 percent of the Buckeye Valley offense, scoring 12 points each and adding 5 rebounds apiece. Linn also had a pair of assists. Junior Cassie Ingram added 5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists, while senior Shannon Steinke led the team with a game-high 7 rebounds plus 4 assists and 3 points.
“We talk a lot about playing on our home floor and intensity,” Fraker said. “We’ll have a good run then take a step back, but now, it’s time for us to refocus. We don’t get a whole lot of time off (before Thursday against Highland), then it’s back to work.”
DELAWARE HAYES 39, BIG WALNUT 37 — The Golden Eagles had a chance late, but the visiting Lady Pacers had the final say, splitting a pair of free throws in the game’s final seconds to seal a hard-fought 39–37 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division win Friday night in Sunbury.
Down one with the ball, Big Walnut missed a potential game-winning bucket before fouling Hayes’ Kristen McMillen with 1.2 seconds left on the clock. McMillen made just one of the allotted two, but it was one more than she needed as the hosts simply ran out of time, unable to get off another shot.
“They shot 12 of 17 from the foul line and we made just seven of our 17,” Big Walnut coach Bob Scott said. “We’re competing, though, and we had a chance to win it late, which is all we can ask.”
The game couldn’t have been much closer than it was from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Hayes jumped ahead 11–7 by the end of the first quarter, but Big Walnut, thanks to a 10–7 edge in the second, trailed by just one at halftime.
The third quarter was dead even, with the Pacers entering the final frame up 28–27 before outscoring the Golden Eagles 11–10 to seal the deal.
Junior guard Julie Bauer had a big night for Hayes, closing with a game-high 18 points on the strength of three three-pointers. McMillen and Miriam Aburmaieleh were also solid in the win, finishing with nine points each.
Big Walnut was led by Skylar Fleak, who closed with 14 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Makenna Hammond was also steady, pouring in 10 points in the setback.