The Lady Braves hit the floor ready to play … and play they did.
Olentangy, which sits atop the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division with a 7-0 record, jumped out to a 20-2 lead over Big Walnut 9 minutes and 15 seconds into the game and never looked back en route to a 59-38 victory over the host Golden Eagles Saturday night in Sunbury.
“We came out ready to play and executed our game plan extremely well in the first quarter,” Olentangy head coach John Feasel said. “We were effective at both ends of the floor, especially on defense.”
Olentangy (9-4, 7-0 OCC Capital), sparked by the play of junior point guard Morgan Horvath who contributed two baskets and a free throw, took a 12-2 lead on sophomore forward Emily Stephens’ layin with 2:39 left in the opening quarter. Sophomore guard Christina Baumann, closed the opening period with an exclamation point as she buried a trey from midcourt at the buzzer to put the Lady Braves up 18-2 after the first eight minutes.
“You can’t score two points in the first quarter and expect to win,” Big Walnut head coach Steve Palmer said. “But that is not to take anything away from Olentangy. They are ranked in the top ten in Central Ohio and they are there because they are good … they are a complete team. We got impatient running our offense and that opened the door for Olentangy. We need to do a better job of getting out of the gate offensively, that’s been our major issue this season.”
The Golden Eagles were 0-for-11 from the field while losing 5 points on 7 turnovers in their 18 first-quarter possessions. The Lady Braves, meanwhile, hit 6 of 18 shots, including three of four from 3-point range, while turning the ball over only 4 times.
Big Walnut (7-5, 3-5 OCC Capital), led by senior Sara Petty and junior Makenna Hammond, came back out and outscored the Lady Braves 14-12 to go into the half trailing 30-16. Petty, with 7 points, and Hammond, with 5 points, led the charge.
In the third quarter, Olentangy picked up where it left off in the first half by opening up a 25-point, 49-24 advantage behind the scoring of junior Rachel Womeldorf, who counted three baskets, and sophomore Kelly Meade, who buried a pair of treys.
“We came back out in the second half and played a solid third quarter,” Feasel said. “We are still looking to become a more consistent team for 32 minutes.”
The Golden Eagles closed out the game by winning the final quarter 14-10 behind the scoring of senior Skylar Fleak and Hammond who tallied 7 points apiece.
“We outscored them in both the second and fourth quarters,” Palmer said. “We have the ability to compete with teams on our schedule, we just need to be focused and come ready to play for four quarters.”
“I give Big Walnut’s players credit” Feasel said. “Led by the efforts of Fleak and Hammond, they played hard for four quarters.”
Horvath and Meade topped Olentangy in the scoring column, Horvath with a team-high 20 and Meade with 17 points. Hammond shared game scoring honors with Horvath with 20 points for Big Walnut. Fleak backed Hammond with 11 points.
The Lady Braves shot 37.0 percent (20-for-54) from the field and 56.0 percent (14-for-25) at the free throw line. The Golden Eagles were 12-for-45 (26.7 percent) from the field and 9-for-14 (64.3 percent) at the line. In 3-point shooting, Olentangy was 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) and Big Walnut 5-for-13 (38.5 percent). The Lady Braves, led by Horvath with 12 and junior Rachel Beidelman with 11 rebounds, controlled the glass 54-30. Petty topped the Golden Eagles on the boards with 9 rebounds followed by Fleak with 6.
Olentangy turned the ball over 17 times in 62 possessions (27.4 percent), losing 9 points, while Big Walnut committed 16 turnovers in 63 possessions (25.4 percent), losing 12 points.
Big Walnut and Olentangy will square off again on Friday with the Golden Eagles traveling to Lewis Center for a 7:30 p.m. rematch.
BIG WALNUT 49, FRANKLIN HEIGHTS 35 — The Golden Eagle girls basketball team is gathering momentum.
Big Walnut outscored Franklin Heights 22-8 in the second quarter en route to last Thursday’s Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory over host Franklin Heights in Columbus. The win marked the Golden Eagles’ fourth triumph in their last five starts.
Leading 10-6 after the opening eight minutes, Steve Palmer’s Golden Eagles put 22 second-period points in the book to take a 32-14 halftime lead and never looked back. The Falcons, thanks to a 14-point final quarter outburst, outscored Big Walnut 21-17 in the final half, but were unable to overcome their 18-point halftime deficit.
Big Walnut (7-4, 3-4 OCC Capital) was led by senior Sara Petty’s game-leading 14 points. Junior Makenna Hammond joined Petty in double figures with 10 points. Senior Skylar Fleak contributed 8 points to the winning effort.
Petty, making 8 of her 10 free throw attempts, and Hammond, going 8-for-11, combined to convert 16 of 21 (76.2 percent) foul shots. For the game, the Golden Eagles made 23 free throws compared to the Falcons’ 14.
Justice Potts and Savannah Harbour led Franklin Heights (3-8, 0-7 OCC) in the scorebook with 8 points apiece.