PV’s perfect season comes to an end

CUYAHOGA FALLS – The easy part for Beachwood Bison girls basketball coach Michael Coreno was assembling a game plan for the Pymatuning Valley Lakers.

The difficult part was making sure the players followed the script, which was to keep Laker standout senior Geena Gabriel as far from the basket as possible.

Gabriel was able to beat man coverage and get inside several times in the first half but somehow wasn’t able to produce a field goal. In the second half, the Bison’s defense blocked all avenues to the basket for Gabriel, who again went without a fielder.

The Bison, meanwhile, picked up their offense after a sluggish first half and went on to post a 41-29 win in a semifinal of the Division III regional tournament Wednesday.

“We decided to play good defense,” said Coreno of a second half in which the Bison outscored the Lakers, 25-12. “In the first half, we played their game on their offensive end of the court – moving around and not defending that pick and roll very well.

“Then we took some opportunities to make some adjustments and tried to get the ball out of 21’s hands (Gabriel). When she drove we were doubling her. Twenty-one couldn’t beat us by herself.”

With Gabriel able to generate just seven points from the foul line, the Lakers (25-1) needed scoring from other sources. They weren’t able to produce enough, making a mere nine field goals on 34 attempts. PV recorded just three field goals in the second half.

“We knew in the last couple games that everybody has been watching Geena,” Lakers coach Jeff Compan said. “We wanted to come off the roll and hit the layup. They (the Bison) did a nice job of jamming us and holding on to us coming off the pick and roll.

“We couldn’t get that space. If we could have gotten a couple of those early buckets, it might have eased us up a little bit.”

There was some good news for the Lakers at halftime – namely a 17-16 lead. The Bison (20-6) also had their problems on the offensive end in the first half, missing several long 3-point attempts and a few from within the shadow of the basket.

It was if the teams were sparring in the first 16 minutes to get a feel for each other’s strengths and weaknesses. After spotting the Lakers two quick free throws by Megan Stech in the third quarter, the Bison scored nine unanswered points, including 3-pointers by Mikah Aldridge and Aryana Jackson.

The Lakers couldn’t get untracked the rest of the game. They trailed 27-23 after the third quarter and were never able to get closer than four points in the fourth period.

“Once we got down and were missing shots, then we started to press and our offense became stagnant,” Compan said. “We all started to stand around and look for Geena to score. I told the girls that they are all watching Geena. A cut to the hoop; a little quick ball fake. Late in the game Kelsea (Brown) made a nice cut and got a layup, but we needed more of that.”

Beachwood, which plays Smithville in the final Saturday, was led in scoring by Jackson with 13 points. Aldridge had 11, and Aneisha Hardin added 10.