FREDERICKTOWN — On Thursday night, the Fredericktown High School girls basketball team looked like a team that had been away from the court for a few days due to the snowstorm. Unfortunately, the visiting Loudonville Redbirds didn’t.
The Redbirds, who hadn’t practiced since Tuesday, shook off the rust quickly and pressured the Freddies possession after possession. That pressure led to several offensive opportunities and the Redbirds capitalized in the form of a 53-30 Mid-Buckeye Conference victory.
“I really think (our pressure) was the key to the game,” said Loudonville coach Joy Taylor. “In the third quarter, we wanted to come out and put the pressure on because we hadn’t really tried to in the first half. We went in at halftime and decided we needed to pressure their ball handlers and force some turnovers. That helped get our offense flowing. We haven’t practiced for two days, so our offense wasn’t flowing. We knew it would have to be a defensive win, and it was.”
Loudonville (9-6, 8-2 MBC), which was playing its fourth game, had 22 steals on the night, and the Freddies (6-10, 4-7 MBC) had more turnovers (31) than shots (27).
“In the first half, they didn’t do what I thought they would. Then in the second half, they did, and that threw us off a little bit, but that’s no excuse,” said Fredericktown coach Dave Logan. “We were just throwing them the ball. We didn’t play well. They made some good shots in that third quarter; they are a really good team. They just outhustled us.”
The two teams played a close first quarter with the lead bouncing back and forth. A 3-pointer by Megan Scarberry with five seconds left put the Redbirds up by two, 10-8, after one. Loudonville struggled to find its shooting touch, going just 3-of-15 from the field in the quarter.
“That was a big shot,” Taylor said of Scarberry’s 3. “In the first couple of timeouts, I kept telling them their shots were going to fall. We had to keep taking the open looks. I was definitely glad to see us start to get a couple, just to boost our confidence. I think we were starting to lose confidence.”
That quickly changed in the first four minutes of the second quarter. Continuing a 5-2 spurt that began in the first quarter, the Redbirds made it a 16-4 run with a pair of jumpers from Felicia Baker and three buckets from Becky Orchard. The last shot, a 3-pointer from Orchard, made it a 21-10 game with 4:17 to go before halftime.
Fredericktown picked things up on the defensive end and held Loudonville off the scoreboard over the final minutes, but converted offensively just once — a three-point play by Mackenzie Logan — and trailed 21-13 at the break. The Freddies had 15 first-half turnovers.
The defining moments of the game came in the third quarter. The Redbirds picked things up on the defensive end, pressuring the Freddies into 10 turnovers in the quarter. That led to some easy transition buckets, which Loudonville converted.
“That was definitely the game plan in the second half,” said Taylor. “We felt a little rusty and we wanted to pick up the defensive intensity. The kids are athletic enough to do it. ... We have a nice athletic group that can come up with steals.”
The Redbirds raced out on a 20-2 run, which included eight points from Scarberry and eight steals, to take a commanding 41-15 lead with 1:33 to go. Adria Troyer hit a jumper for Fredericktown with 36 seconds left to cut heading into the fourth quarter.
The Freddies played better in the final period, going on a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 20, but the Redbirds went to the free-throw line 11 times in the fourth quarter and converted eight of them. Loudonville went 15-of-19 from the line for the game. The Freddies did eventually get the deficit to 19, 49-30, after another three-point play by Logan with 1:32 to go, but that was as close as they could get. A jumper by Baker and two free throws from Chris Kranz iced the Redbird win.
“Free throws are always one of our keys, and I think we shot over 80 percent today, which is great,” said Taylor.
Orchard and Scarberry led Loudonville with 14 and 11 points apiece, respectively. Orchard also had four steals, two assists and one block, while Scarberry contributed five steals and two assists. Courtney Ryan added nine points, three rebounds and five steals; Baker had eight points; and Alexis VanHorn finished with five points, three rebounds, three steals and three assists.
“They seem to have a great eye for what they need to do,” coach Logan said of the Redbirds. “When a play needed to be made, they had the right players make it. That’s a sign of a great team. ... They are putting the right people in the right places. They outhustled us. That’s as simple as it gets.”
Lindsey Briegel and Logan were Fredericktown’s top point getters, scoring eight points apiece. Logan added seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks, and Briegel had five rebounds and two steals. Brittany Jones dropped in six points, and Courtney Briegel had four points, two steals and two assists.
In reserve action, Fredericktown held off a Loudonville fourth-quarter rally yo pick up a 31-24 victory. The Freddies led, 24-13, at the start of the quarter, only to watch as the Redbirds closed the gap to four, 28-24. Tricia Troyer and Devan Kennedy scored eight points apiece to pace Fredericktown. Brianne Cox had eight points for Loudonville, which also got six points from Lynn Hulver.