By Stephen Smoot
The Pendleton County Lady Wildcats opened their season at Union with a solid win over a Tiger squad. Last Thursday, as the season winds down, the Wildcats hosted a team looking for revenge and carrying a plan of attack.
The game started with Pendleton County winning the tip off. The Wildcats turned immediately to Ana Young, who delivered her first long range shot of the night to put her team up three to nothing after only nine seconds had passed. Only a minute later, Lizzie Alt swiped a ball and drove it coast to coast for a layup to put her team up 5-0.
After a Union three-pointer, Avery Townsend answered with her own three. Shortly thereafter, Young rewarded her team’s effort in getting three offensive rebounds in a possession by hitting a shot from the foul line to extend the Pendleton County lead to 10-3 with 5:27 left in the corner.
Despite hitting early from deep, Union’s first half game plan lay in attacking Gabby DePue and Baylee Beachler inside. The Tigers enjoyed both a height and strength advantage, but DePue and Beachler, with help from the outside players at times, stood tall and foiled most shot attempts. Union’s post players mainly succeeded in drawing fouls, but struggled to hit free throws.
With 3:16 left in the first, DePue blocked a shot that led to a fast break ending with Townsend converting a foul shot. Seventeen seconds later, she disrupted a move to the basket and forced a turnover. Not long after, at the 2:45 mark, a Union player committed a charge trying to get through the defense to the basket.
The Wildcats struggled from outside throughout the game, but managed to manufacture enough points to continually build the lead. At the end of the first quarter, Pendleton County enjoyed a 16-8 lead.
Union’s defense continued to slow the Wildcat offense. In the second quarter, the Wildcats only outscored the Tigers seven to six. The first score in the quarter came at the 5:25 mark when Young benefitted once again from excellent offensive rebounding to find an open shot to extend the lead to 18-8. Almost a minute later, after another Young three, Nataley Hedrick grabbed her first of two offensive rebounds in the quarter. She was fouled on the successful put back attempt and helped to push the lead to 23-9.
Despite Young and DePue disrupting the Tigers with steals, Union hit a three and a two to get their team within nine. Young blocked another three-point attempt with 1.1 seconds on the clock.
In the second quarter, Union drifted away from their strategy to get shots close to the basket and draw fouls. The third quarter saw the Tigers go into a high low offense with players mostly positioned between the two wings and the top of the key. Scoring from this offense came mostly from Victoria Seabolt who found open spots on the floor to drive or shoot.
Pendleton County was generally content to allow Union to pass the ball, eat clock, and then stymie any shot attempted. DePue continued to dominate defensively. She opened the third quarter with a block, then hit Beachler with an outlet pass that led to a layup to extend the lead to 29-14.
Townsend continued to be the hot shooter for the Wildcats. She hit two more three-pointers in the quarter as the Wildcats built a commanding lead. Scoring in the quarter closed with a Young three-pointer on a Beachler assist. Pendleton County earned a 13-5 run in the quarter.
Beachler continued to fight inside in the fourth, getting an offensive rebound and scoring 30 seconds into the quarter. At the 4:47 mark, she took an offensive rebound and kicked it outside to Young for a three. With the minutes ticking away, Pendleton County continued to clamp down on defense. Jenna Smith blocked a shot with 3:33 remaining and followed the defensive play up with a three-point shot.
With 1:31 left Jameigh Miller, who also contributed mightily to Wildcat rebounding success, hit a three. Shortly after Julia Mongold, who earlier hit a 10-foot shot, drove to the basket and drew a foul. She converted the free throw and closed scoring for the game at 58-34.
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