Host Lady Pacers hold off Big Walnut in 41-36 OCC tilt
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
With the outcome in doubt, the Lady Pacers executed down the stretch …
Delaware Hayes (6–10, 5–5 OCC) sank 10 of 16 free throws in the final 3:51 to hold off fast-closing Big Walnut (10–7, 4–6 OCC) en route to a 41–36 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory over the Golden Eagles Thursday night in Delaware.
Erin Margraf’s Pacers held an 8-point, 31–23 advantage on Monique Martinez’s layin with 4:41 remaining in the game before the Golden Eagles’ Skylar Fleak ignited a 9–3 run with a 3-point play and a layin to narrow the gap to 31–28 at the 4:08 mark. With 2:29 left, BW was within a basket at 34–32 on a pair of Sara Petty free throws.
That’s when Hayes cashed in at the charity stripe, scoring their final 8 points at the line. Julie Bauer and Kristen McMillen each hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final 1:35 to put the game in the win column. BW closed the margin to 39–36 on Makenna Hammond’s trey with 9.2 seconds on the clock, but McMillen iced the victory with two free throws with 4.2 seconds to play.
“I was pleased with our execution with the game on the line,” Margraf said. “We struggled with turnovers against Big Walnut’s solid defense, but when it counted we made the plays we needed to make to be successful … that’s all you can ask for.”
The Pacers committed 24 turnovers in 56 possessions, but made up for their mistakes by shooting 40.7 percent (11-for-27) from the field.
While Bauer and McMillen led Hayes with 10 and 9 points, respectively, Margraf praised the play of her bench as 10 players broke into the scoring column for the Pacers.
“We had players come in off the bench to pick up our starters … that was a big difference in the outcome for us,” she said.
Miriam Aburmaieleh, Allissa Beard and Martinez backed Bauer and McMillen with 4 points apiece.
Big Walnut’s Bob Scott cited the Golden Eagles’ inconsistency in their offense, i.e. shooting percentage (11-for-40, 27.5 percent) and turnovers (22 in 57 possessions).
“We did not shoot the ball well and we made too many turnovers,” he said.
And there was the matter of 23 personal fouls, 17 in the second half, that saw Emily Chucta, Stephanie Adkins and Fleak foul out out in the final 2:16.
“In all my years of coaching I don’t remember ever having three players foul out,” Scott said.
A consequence of committing 23 personals was the fact that the Pacers made 17 of 31 free throws for the game, including 10 of 18 in the final 8 minutes. The Golden Eagles were 7-for-11 at the line.
Fleak led all scorers with 14 points. Petty followed with 10 points while Chucta and Hammond followed with 5 points apiece. BW, led by Fleak’s 10 rebounds, claimed a 29–28 edge on the glass. Bauer pulled down 6 missed shots for Hayes.
With the victory, Hayes swept the season series with Big Walnut. The Pacers took the season’s first meeting 39–37 back on December 14 in Sunbury.
BIG WALNUT 37, BEXLEY 30 — The Golden Eagles overcame an 18–15 halftime deficit by outscoring the visiting Lions 22–12 in the second half in last Tuesday’s (January 22) non-conference victory at Big Walnut High School.
Big Walnut (11–6) relied on a balanced attack and a strong second-half defense to notch its 11th win of the season. Skylar Fleak led the Golden Eagles with 9 points while Emily Chucta and Stephanie Adkins followed with 7 points apiece. Sara Petty and Makenna Hammond each contributed 5 points with Samantha Klinedinst closing out the scoring with 4 points.
The Golden Eagle defenders limited Bexley (8–10) to just 10 field goals with 9 of the Lions’ points coming from the free throw line. Lydia Lake paced the visitors with a game-high 12 points. She was joined in double figures by Elise Torrence who tallied 10 points. Meghan Heckman and Bri Stewart rounded out the Lions’ scoring with 4 points apiece.