It was a night of missed opportunities …
Delaware Hayes held off a late Big Walnut fourth-quarter charge to slip past the Golden Eagles 39-36 in a low-scoring Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division defensive struggle Friday night in Sunbury.
Coach Peter Minardi’s Lady Pacers, thanks to an active zone defense, led by as many as 10 points, 32-22, with 6:51 remaining in the season rematch with Big Walnut. The Golden Eagles, who dropped a 22-point, 51-29 decision to Hayes back on December 13 in Delaware to snap a season-opening 3-game winning streak, battled back behind the scoring of junior Makenna Hammond with two baskets, senior Sara Petty with a lay-in and senior Skylar Fleak with a rebound bucket in a late 8-4 run that had the hosts within two of the lead at 38-36 on Fleak’s rebound basket with :06.2 seconds.
That was as close as the Golden Eagles would come.
Delaware (11-6, 6-4 OCC) took advantage of the foul line in the fourth quarter, converting 8 of 14 free throws with 5-foot-9 senior forward Kristen McMillen and 5-7 senior guard Julie Bauer combining to sink 6 of Hayes’ last 7 attempts in the final 2:19 to offset the late Big Walnut (10-6, 4-6 OCC) rally. The Golden Eagles, who outscored the Pacers 14-12 over the final 8 minutes, was 1-for-1 at the line on a Fleak 3-point play two minutes in the quarter.
“We failed to take advantage of our opportunities when we had the ball,” Big Walnut head coach Steve Palmer said. “Unlike our first meeting with Hayes we played solid defense, surrendering 12 fewer points. But give Hayes’ defense credit … they did a good job by containing us for the first three quarters, especially in the third quarter when we could score only three points over the final five minutes.”
Big Walnut took a pair of one-point leads in the third quarter. Fleak and Hammond sparked a 6-0 run to open the period to give the Golden Eagles a 19-18 lead on successive Fleak baskets to put the hosts on top 19-18 with 5:28 left in the period. Makenna countered a McMillen rebound bucket with two free throws to keep BW up by one, 21-20 with 3:50 on the clock.
But Hayes closed out the quarter on a 7-1 run to take a 27-22 lead into the final eight minutes. Abbie Gore, the Pacers’ 5-9 junior forward, sank two free throws with 3:08 on the clock, 5-8 senior guard Maranda Merriman followed with her second 3-pointer and McMillen buried a jumper at the buzzer to send Delaware into the final period with a 5-point, 27-22 lead.
McMillen led Hayes with a game-high 20 points with 14 of her points came in the second half, scoring in each of the final two quarters. Bauer, who led the Pacers with a game-leading 24 points in their first meeting with BW, finished with 8. Merriman followed with 7 points and Gore with 4 to round out the Pacer scoring.
Fleak, who led Big Walnut with 12 points in the December 13 loss to Hayes, paced the Golden Eagles with 18 on Friday night. Hammond backed Fleak with 12 points while Petty followed with 8 and junior Cassie Walaszek with 2 points to complete BW’s scoring.
For the game, the Golden Eagles made three more field goals, 14 to 11, than the Pacers while the Lady Pacers converted 14 of 22 free throws compared to Big Walnut’s 6 of 9 attempts at the stripe.
BIG WALNUT 61, LICKING HEIGHTS 47 — Steve Palmer’s Golden Eagles notched its third straight win with their Tuesday, January 21, non-conference victory over the host Hornets in Pataskala
Big Walnut (10-5), up by only three at 19-16 after the opening half, closed out Licking Heights (8-9) with a solid second half performance that saw the Golden Eagles put . The Golden Eagles outscored the Hornets 23-17 to open up a 42-33 advantage going into the third quarter before sealing the decision with a 19-point fourth-quarter effort for the 14-point margin of victory.
Skylar Fleak and Makenna Hammond continued to carry the Big Walnut offense as they combined for 43 of the Golden Eagles’ 61 points. Fleak led the way with 22 points with Hammond, who counted a pair of treys, just a free throw behind with 21 points. Sara Petty contributed 9 points.
Dameras Whitlock paced Licking Heights with 15 points. Imaani Wilson-Cunningham joined Whitlock in double figures with 10 points. Both counted two 3-point goals apiece.