ANDOVER - It took a second half tidal wave, but the Pymatuning Valley girls basketball team scored a 53-27 home victory over Badger Thursday night to give coach Jeff Compan his 200th victory.
In his 14th year leading the Lakers team, Compan's milestone did not come easy.
"We talked before the game about playing with intensity," Compan said. "We knew (Badger) would be ready to play. (Badger coach) Dusty (Karr) always has his girls ready to play. They're young, but they are getting better all the time.
"In the first half, we sort of stood around and let them defend us. We're a slashing type of team that depends on ball movement, but we didn't get the ball inside well on them."
It took a second-half surge, starting midway through the third period, for the swift PV (15-2, 8-2) machine to get into gear, but when it did, the results were came via typical PV style.
Defensive pressure and attacking key what the Lakers do under Compan.
"Once we got rolling in the third period, we were able to keep it rolling a bit more to pull away," Compan said.
Kelsea Brown had a big night for the Lakers. She tallied 19 points, snared 13 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass to help offset a poor shooting night for PV, and stole the ball three times.
"I told the girls at halftime that if we make half of those easy shots we had in the first half, it's a totally different ballgame," Karr said.
As it was, the Braves (4-13) were only down 20-13 at the half. They were still in the game, but after scoring the first points of the second half on a 3-pointer by Taylor Kramar, PV tallied the next 11 to take a 31-16 lead with 4:01 left in the quarter. The run was fueled by eight Braves turnovers, including four steals by Heather Brant, and after a 5 of 22 first half from the floor, PV "warmed" up to a 5 of 13 effort in that period.
"Once we started missing shots and they (PV) got running, there was no stopping them tonight," Karr said. "Offensively, we tried to get the ball to the middle on them before they could trap us. It worked to a point. We got some good shots, but we didn't knock them down. If we make some of them, especially in the first half, it's a different game for us. We felt if we could get them into a half-court game against our 2-3 zone, it would work in our favor.
"Once they starting pressing the ball more in the third period, though, we made some mistakes consecutively that hurt. At times, with a young team like ours (five freshmen, one sophomore, one junior in their rotation) if we make mistakes we try to make up for it too fast, and that leads to more mistakes. That hurt us tonight."
Brandi Nitch led with eight points, and sophomore post Harlee Logan, while scoring only two points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out four assists and blocked six shots to make her presence known in the paint.
Geena Gabriel added 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists helped Brown. Heather Brant added 10 points and seven steals.
Even on a off night, PV broke the game open with a huge effort from the foul line. It hit 22 of 28 free throws, more than enough to cover their own rough night from the floor. They hit 15 of 50 for 30 percent, but their defense forced 31 turnovers. Had the Lakers been making their shots, Gabriel might have had 15 assists on the night, but they made just enough to get Compan his historic win.
"The girls made big plays in the second half when they had to," he added. "The years have really flown by quickly here, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to coach here. It's a lot of fun."