In the end, this one belonged to the Golden Eagles.
In a competitive girls basketball matchup battle between two long-time Delaware County rivals, Big Walnut outscored Buckeye Valley 10-6 over the final six minutes to break a 38-38 deadlock en route to a 48-44 non-conference victory over the visiting Barons in the Golden Eagles’ season-debut Tuesday night in Sunbury.
“Our girls picked up their intensity in the closing minutes,” said first-year Big Walnut head coach Steve Palmer. “We tightened up our defense, hit some key baskets and made our free throws down the stretch … I was proud of the way our players responded to the challenge”
After Buckeye Valley (0-2) tied the game at 38-38 on senior Michaela Linn’s basket with 6:02 remaining, Big Walnut responded with an 8-2 run to take a 46-40 lead on two free throws by junior Makenna Hammond with 2:32 to play. Hammond followed with a baseline jumper for a 43-38 lead with 5:31 on the clock. senior Skylar Fleak kept the Golden Eagles rolling with a 3-point play at the 3:34 mark before Hammond cashed in on her two charity tosses.
Landon Donovan’s Barons snapped a 9-possession scoreless streak on junior Amy Stought’s basket at the 1:17 mark before Linn sank two free throws to trim the BV deficit to 48-44 with 0:29.5 seconds remaining.
“Our girls showed a lot of poise playing on the road,” Donovan said. “They battled back from a 10-point deficit and put themselves in a position to win the game. We played a lot better than we did in our season-opening loss to Delaware Hayes … to a player we simply refused to quit.”
Both teams combined to turn the ball over 70 times, 36 by the Barons and 34 by the Golden Eagles. Turnovers proved to be Buckeye Valley’s downfall as Big Walnut scored 37 of its 48 points off Baron mistakes. BV tallied just 24 points off Golden Eagle turnovers.
“Big Walnut took advantage of our mistakes and turned them into points,” Donovan said. “Unfortunately we could not return the favor.”
In the deciding fourth quarter, Buckeye Valley scored just three points off Golden Eagle eight turnovers while Big Walnut collected six points off six Barons turnovers.
BV senior Cassie Ingram led all scorers with a game-high 24 points on 8 field goals and 7 free throws. Linn backed Ingram with 13 points. Eight players, led by Fleak’s 13 points, scored for Big Walnut. Hammond followed Fleak in double figures with 10 points. Senior Sara Petty added 7 points while senior Leah Shaw and senior Hayley Apple followed with 6 points apiece.
For the game. Big Walnut shot 32.7 percent (17-for-52) from the field after shooting 38.1 (8-for-21) over the final 8 minutes. Buckeye Valley shot 3o.4 percent (14-for-46) thanks to a 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) final quarter. At the line, the Golden Eagles were 13-for-22 (59.1) and the Barons 16-for-24 (66.7). On the boards, Buckeye Valley, led by Ingram’s 14 rebounds, claimed a 43-41 advantage. Cleared cleared off 11 to lead Big Walnut.