Chalk this one up to the Golden Eagles’ second half zone defense and clutch free throw shooting.
For three quarters, visiting Worthington Kilbourne and host Big Walnut battled with neither team holding more than a six-point lead in Wednesday night’s Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division rematch that saw the Golden Eagles rally for a 50-43 overtime victory over the Lady Wolves in Sunbury.
With the score deadlocked at 36-36 with 0:59.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the game was on. Steve Palmer’s Golden Eagles took a 3-point, 39-36 lead on Skylar Fleak’s fastbreak layin which resulted in a 3-point play with 0:46.9 seconds left in the period to send Big Walnut (11-6, 5-6 OCC) into the final eight minutes with a 39-36 lead.
The drama was just beginning.
Kilbourne (10-7, 5-6 OCC), which defeated BW 46-30 back on December 17 at Worthington, came back out and scored the first five points of the fourth quarter on an Annie Mosca jumper and a Carli Taute 3-pointer to take a 41-39 lead with 4:27 left in regulation. The Golden Eagles answered with four straight pressure-packed free throws from Makenna Hammond to go back on top 43-41 with 2:56 remaining. After turning the ball over on two of their last three possessions, the Wolves’ Jordyn Wilson canned a jumper with 0:51.2 left in regulation to send the game into overtime deadlocked at 43-43.
Once in the extra session, Big Walnut tightened up its zone defense and closed Kilbourne out at the foul line. The Golden Eagles, led by Fleak and Hammond who were a combined 6-for-8 at the line, made good on 7 of 10 free throw attempts while out shutting the Lady Wolves, who were 0-for-6 from the field while turning the ball over in 8 possessions.
“Our defense stepped up and got the job done,” a smiling Palmer said after the game. “They were hurting us inside against our man defense so that’s when we decided to go to our zone defense. Kilbourne has some good shooters, but we were able to do a better job containing them in out zone.”
Kilbourne, which shot 53.8 percent (7-for-13) in the opening period, led 16-14 after the opening quarter. For the rest of the contest, the Lady Wolves were 10-for-34 (29.4 percent) from the floor while turning the ball over 12 times in 47 possessions.
Big Walnut heated up its offense after coming up empty-handed on its first five possessions of the second quarter, outscoring Kilbourne 15-5 over the final five minutes of the first half after falling behind 20-14 on two Mosca free throws at the 5:49 mark. After Hannah Seawell counted a rebound basket, Fleak went to work and counted four baskets, including a three, to send the Golden Eagles into the half with a 29-25 advantage on Hammond’s bucket with 2 seconds left on the clock.
“When we picked up our defensive intensity in the second quarter that seemed to give us the momentum we looking for and we were able to carry that into the overtime and come away with the victory,” Palmer reflected.
Fleak and Hammond continued to carry the Big Walnut offense, Fleak leading all scorers with 20 points backed by Hammond who finished with 18. Sara Petty checked in with 9 points. The Golden Eagles shot a weather-matching 27.8 percent (15-for-54) from the field, including 2-for-6 from behind the arc, but converted 18 of 23 free throws (78.3 percent) with their last 11 points of the game coming at the line in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Taute paced Worthington Kilbourne with 12 points. Wilson followed with 8 and Kayla Pack and Julia Tout with 7 points apiece. The Lady Wolves were 17-for-47 (36.2 percent) from the floor, including 4-for-14 in 3-point attempts, and 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) at the line.
Big Walnut, led by Fleak and Petty with 10 rebounds apiece, claimed a 41-34 advantage off the glass. Pack and Tout led Kilbourne with 7 rebounds apiece. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over 12 times in 61 possessions (19.7 percent), losing 6 points. The Lady Wolves committed 18 turnovers in 62 possessions (29.0 percent), losing 10 points.
MOUNT VERNON 47, BIG WALNUT 34 — The OCC Capital Division-leading Yellow Jackets held off a third-quarter Golden Eagle rally in Friday night’s matchup in Mount Vernon.
Mount Vernon (17-1, 11-0 OCC), after watching Big Walnut pull within two of the lead 31-29 at end of the third quarter, came back out and outscored the Golden Eagles 16-5 over the final eight minutes to post the 13-point victory.
The Yellow Jackets took a 26-18 lead into the second half, but only to watch as Big Walnut (11-7, 5-7 OCC) come back out an win the third period 11-5 behind the play of Skylar Fleak and Makenna Hammond.
Rachel Parks and Sierra Basista paced Mount Vernon 12 and 11 points, respectively.Maddie Montgomery contributed 9 points.
Fleak paced the Golden Eagles with a game-leading 15 points. Hammond backed Fleak with 11 points.