ROSEMOUNT — Contrasting styles and contrasting experience made Monday’s non-league girls game between Valley and Clay a tight one throughout.
Behind a pair of 27-point halves, the Lady Indians managed a 54-46 road win over the Lady Panthers to improve to 2-4.
The win was Valley’s first away-from-Lucasville triumph of the 2020-21 season, and the first under first-year coach Tyson Phillips.
As for the contrast in styles between Phillips’ Lady Indians and coach Scott Artis’ Lady Panthers, those figures came way of both teams’ scoring efforts.
While Valley thrived by connecting on field goals of the two-point variety, Clay kept its guests within arm’s reach thanks to 10-made three-pointers.
Each of the Lady Indians’ 21 made field goals were two-point tries, while their other 12 points came way of the charity stripe, meaning Valley made no threes but still managed to walk away with a near double-digit victory.
“Coming into the game we thought we had the advantage on the inside. Our focus was getting the ball inside to Haley (Whitt) or Madison (Montgomery), or by our guards attacking the paint off the dribble,” Phillips said. “When we did that I thought we were successful. We were patient enough on offense to wait to get the look we wanted.”
Lady Indians freshman Lexie Morrow led her team with 15 points on six makes and three free throws.
Ten of Morrow’s 15 points came during the first quarter — when Valley held onto an 18-14 lead after the first eight minutes.
Juniors Haley Whitt and McKenna Dunham and sophomore Madison Montgomery aided Valley’s efforts on the inside — combining for 32 of their team’s 54 points on 14 field goals and four made free throws.
Defensively, Valley forced Clay ballhandlers into 22 turnovers, while unofficially surrendering possession just 11 times itself.
The Lady Indians also outrebounded the Lady Panthers by a 34-27 margin.
“I thought we competed well on the boards than what we have in previous games. Defensively, I thought we were locked in in certain stretches and I thought did a really good job,” Phillips said. “We’re still playing a lot of kids, I think 10 kids got into the game. Still working on those rotations and you saw Clay take advantage of some of those wide-open shots and knock them in.”
Clay senior McKenzie Loper knocked down at least one three in each of the four quarters (two in third) — to lead its scoring with a team-high 15 points.
Loper connected on exactly half of Clay’s 10 made threes, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of its overall scoring.
Fellow senior Sophia Gatti also reached double figures in the loss, scoring seven of her 12 in the second half.
“I thought the effort was there for us tonight, really for the first time all year,” Clay coach Scott Artis said. “I thought we played four solid quarters instead of a half here or there. We were outsized, but we did a good job of moving on their bigger players. We held them pretty good and shot really well, so I was happy with the way we played tonight.”
The Lady Panthers are set to host Green on Monday (Jan. 4) in a return to Southern Ohio Conference Division I play after the New Year holiday.
Artis believes the way Clay competed against Valley will help carry its momentum into the second half of the season while still seeking its first win.
“Definitely something to build off of,” Artis said. “It always seems like the second half of the season we start playing a little bit harder. I hope now going into the New Year, we can build off this. If we can play like this the rest of the season, I’ll be happy with where we end up.”
With wins over Minford and now Clay, Phillips and the Lady Indians are also hoping their momentum carries into the New Year — as they continue their march through a daunting SOC II league schedule.
Valley will travel to West on Wednesday (Dec. 30) in a rescheduled league game before the calendar officially turns to 2021.
“We’re excited to have the group that we have,” Phillips said. “We’ve got a good team with some good guards and good post players. Every conference game that we’re going to have will be a battle, and that’s good for us. You want good competition because that’s what is going to make you better. And if we get knocked down, we’ll get back up, keep going to work and keep getting better.”
Valley 18 9 16 11 — 54
Clay 15 10 12 9 — 46
VALLEY 54 (2-4)
Natalie Buckle 0 0-0 0, Lucie Ashkettle 1 1-2 3, Caitlin Kennard 0 0-0 0, Emilie Johnson 0 3-4 3, McKenna Dunham 3 1-2 7, Haley Whitt 5 3-8 13, Lexie Morrow 6 3-8 15, Savannah Easter 0 0-0 0, Rylee Johnson 0 1-2 1, Madison Montgomery 6 0-0 12; TOTALS 21 12-26 54; Three-point field goals: none
CLAY 46 (0-9)
Shaley Munion 2 2-4 7, Sophia Gatti 5 0-1 12, Kat Cochran 2 0-0 6, McKenzie Loper 5 0-0 15, Megan Bazler 1 0-1 2, Tabby Whitt 1 0-0 2, Kyleigh Oliver 0 0-0 0, Maggie Swayne 0 2-2 2; TOTALS 16 4-8 46; Three-point field goals: 10 (McKenzie Loper 5, Kat Cochran and Sophia Gatti 2 apiece, Shaley Munion 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved