Olentangy’s defense lifts Lady Braves past Golden Eagles, 51-40
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
In what turned into a defensive struggle, it would be the Lady Braves who would come away with the victory.
In the end, Olentangy’s full-court pressure would turn the tide in the Lady Braves favor as John Feasel’s club posted a 51–40 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory over host Big Walnut Friday night in Sunbury.
“We made key stops when Big Walnut was making runs at the lead,” Feasel said after the game. “They refused to go away quietly, and we expected that. It’s tough to win on the road in the OCC, and tonight’s game was a perfect example of that.”
Olentangy (13–3, 8–1 OCC), clinging to a 40–36 lead following a 3-point play by the Golden Eagles’ Emily Chucta with 6:42 to play, put the game away with an 11–4 run led by 6-foot-10 senior Brooke Zwayer’s 3-basket spree.
“Every time Big Walnut challenged for the lead our offense would pick us up and give us a cushion” Feasel said. “it was a complete team effort on our part.”
For Big Walnut (9–6, 4–5 OCC), it came down the fact that when the Golden Eagles was making a run at the lead, they had too many stretches where they could not score — and the final six minutes of the game was a perfect example where Big Walnut could only produce baskets by Skylar Fleak and Chucta while turning the ball over 5 times.
“We did a good job defensively against Olentangy, but we were inconsistent on offense,” BW head coach Bob Scott said. “Give credit to Olentangy, they did a good job pressuring us when the game got close.”
Olentangy, sparked by senior Courtney Hale and senior Gina Miccinilli who combined for 14 points, including a pair of treys apiece, held an 8-point 24–17 lead on a pair of free throws by senior Lydia Hyburg with 6:13 left in the opening half.
Big Walnut rallied behind Chucta who counted a 3-point play and a layin in a 34-second span to close the gap to 24–22 with 4:40 on the clock. Over their final 10 possessions of the half, the Golden Eagles counted only a Makenna Hammond jumper from the lane while turning the ball over 4 times and went into the half down by six, 30–24.
The third period was a stalemate as the Braves outscored the Golden Eagles 8–7 to take a 38–31 lead into the final quarter. The two rivals were a combined 4-for-20 from the field while committing 5 turnovers apiece.
“Our defense kept the game close, but we wasted opportunities to put points on the board by turning the ball over,” Scott said.
Big Walnut totaled 26 turnovers in 63 possessions, TOs that handed the Braves a total of 18 points. Olentangy turned the ball over 16 times in 63 possessions at the cost of 8 points.
The victory gave the Braves, who won the first meeting 68–28 behind freshman Kelly Meade’s 21 points on December 7 at Olentangy, a sweep of the regular season series with the Golden Eagles.
“If there is a positive for us, it’s a fact that we played a more competitive game this time around,” Scott said.
Olentangy’s balanced scoring attack was led by Hyburg with 13 points and Hale and Zwayer with 10 points apiece. Senior Katie Heath and Miccinilli contributed 6 points apiece. The Braves shot 38.3 percent (18-for-47) from the field, adding 11 free throws in 17 attempts (64.7 percent).
Big Walnut was led by Chucta and Fleak with game-highs of 15 points apiece. Hammond was next with 5 points. The Golden Eagles shot 37.8 percent (14-for-37) from the floor and were 10-for-12 at the line (83.3 percent). Big Walnut, led by Fleak’s 8 boards, claimed a 31–28 edge off the glass. Hyburg pulled down 7 rebounds for Olentangy.