PV uses late charge for victory over Maplewood

MECCA – Maplewood thought it solved the mystery of Pymatuning Valley’s 2-3 zone.

Miranda Sloan connected with fellow guard Morgan Hansel and post Brooke Dawson on consecutive plays late in the third quarter to take an 11-point lead.

It seemed the fast-paced Rockets had Thursday’s girls basketball game against PV well in hand.

However, the Lakers’ Geena Gabriel’s basket late in the fourth quarter was a precursor to Thursday’s 38-35 PV victory.

Maplewood was held scoreless until Dawson, who led Maplewood (3-1, 0-1 Northeastern Athletic Conference) with 15 points, drove the lane with 24.5 seconds left to break the drought.

“We weren’t getting any shots up for a long time,” said Maplewood coach Mark Yoder, whose team was 1 of 6 in the final stanza. “The ones we had were forced. We weren’t moving the ball real well.”

The Rockets had a handful of turnovers in the fourth quarter – 26 for the game. Yoder remains baffled how his team keeps making those unforced errors.

“We know just about all the other parts of our game are pretty good,” Yoder said. “Taking care of the basketball is just that one thing we can’t seem to fix, no matter how many drills we do in practice or how many times you tell them to take care of the ball, make ball fakes, come meet the pass. It just doesn’t seem to resonate during a game.

“When you’re playing a good team, you can’t afford to have that many turnovers.”

PV (4-0, 1-0), on the other hand, had its way with the Rockets – moving the ball around and getting it in the hands of senior point guard Geena Gabriel. Her basket late in the third quarter started a 14-0 run. She made both ends of a one-and-one – putting PV up 36-35 with 1:15 remaining.

She was 0 for 3 from the line prior to her run of four straight free throws.

“Since I’m the captain, I had to take position to be the team leader and go in try to score and get us up,” Gabriel said.

Maplewood, which had seven of its turnovers and shot 2 of 11 in the first quarter, rallied from an early second-quarter 14-6 deficit to take a 22-19 lead at halftime. Then, the Rockets dominated most of the third quarter.

“They made a lot better decisions than what we did in the fourth quarter,” Yoder said. “When you make good decisions, hit that open girl and play good team offense, you’re going to score more points.”

Megan Stech, who had 10 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, led the defensive effort against an up-tempo Maplewood team.

“We were really worried about the inside,” Compan said. “We thought we had enough size on the wings to disrupt their offense. (Miranda) Sloan (who had six points) has been huge in the past and we wanted to limit her penetration.

“I thought we did a good job a little bit of frustrating them on the offensive end.”

Saturday, PV heads to Conneaut. Monday, Maplewood travels to Windham.