LOGAN — For varying reasons, the Logan Lady Chiefs and Circleville Lady Tigers entered their Wednesday night basketball fray in Jim Myers Gymnasium quite short-handed.
The Lady Tigers were able to overcome 30 turnovers because the Lady Chiefs had an absolutely atrocious night from the field in knocking off the Purple & White, 41-36.
For the second-straight season, the Lady Tigers (3-1) got the most out of playing solid zone defense against the Lady Chiefs (1-3), who went an unreal 10-of-72 (13.9 percent) from the field, including 4-of-37 (10.8 percent) from beyond the three-point arc. They missed 33 threes and 29 twos.
Shooting under 14 percent from the floor is something the Lady Chiefs haven’t done in years. It was bad enough that they would have been thrilled to shoot the 26 percent they shot from the floor in a 46-34 setback last season at Circleville on a night they missed 19 shots from long range.
“I thought our zone caused them some problems tonight,” said Circleville coach Steve Kalinoski. “We’re not real quick, but we’re fairly long, so I think our long arms caused them some problems. That was our game plan, to come in and play some zone against them just like last year.
“They had some great shooters on that team last year and our zone shut them down,” he added, “and we kind of did the same thing (tonight). This was a big non-league win for us being banged up a little bit. Playing a good team like them makes us better in the future.”
Circleville was missing guards Brie Kendrick and forward Shayna Hoop — both of whom were out with ankle injuries — while the Lady Chiefs were missing three-fifths of their starting lineup due to injury (Rachel Pierce and Payton Frasure) and suspension (Haleigh Sammons).
It’ll be that way for awhile, too — at least a couple weeks — so the young Lady Chiefs are going to have to make the best of the situation.
“It’s early. There’s still time to fix things, but I thought we did a bad job letting our scoring ability dictate the rest of our game,” said Logan coach Jay Chadwell. “I thought because we didn’t score, we panicked as opposed to ‘let’s do this better or let’s do that better’ and let the game come to us (instead of) trying to push too much as far as taking shots that maybe we shouldn’t have taken or not trying to get the ball inside just to give us a different look. I didn’t think we did that very well.
“We have shooters,” he added. “It’s not like we have girls who can’t shoot the ball, but I think it’s just a confidence thing. One missed shot or one mistake can’t turn into five missed shots or five mistakes. Miss or make, that play’s over and you have to get ready for the next one. We did a bad job missing shots early and then we were shooting not to miss as opposed to trying to make the shot.”
The Lady Chiefs played tentatively on offense and even when they had open looks over the Circleville zone they oftentimes misfired badly. At least a half-dozen of the 33 triples they missed never even drew iron.
And while the Lady Chiefs created much of their scoring off pressure defense — that helped them overcome an early 9-3 deficit to take the lead at halftime — they didn’t capitalize nearly enough on the many miscues the Lady Tigers committed.
But Circleville capitalized enough on Logan’s ice-cold shooting to get just enough offense to take the lead for good less than three minutes into the third period and build as much as an 11-point edge (41-30) in the late going.
“When we were able to slow ourselves down and pass the basketball instead of dribbling the basketball we were able to get downcourt and finish,” Kalinoski said. “We told them from the get-go that was going to be very important. At times we didn’t do that, but when we did we got some shots and finishing with Meghan finishing on the other end for us at times.”
Meghan Davis, a 6-0 sophomore post player, scored back-to-back buckets off Katie Knul assists early in the third stanza, where Circleville tallied 10 of the first 11 points to overcome a 19-16 Logan halftime lead.
Davis (nine points, 11 rebounds) scored seven of her points in that quarter and put Circleville ahead for good with a pair of free throws at the 5:25 mark. Abby Keaton then nailed a huge three-ball and Davis added another charity toss for a 26-20 lead.
Five-foot-11 freshman Kenzie McConnell, who had a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double, made a couple free throws and sophomore Tori Bircher (eight points) added a pair of her own in the waning minute of the period as Circleville took a 30-24 lead into the final eight minutes.
Logan closed within 30-27 less than 90 seconds into the fourth stanza, but a Bircher three from deep off the left wing led an 11-3 spurt, which McConnell finished with a pair of free throws and a rebound basket, that put Circleville up 41-30 with 1:24 left in the game.
The Lady Chiefs scored the game’s final six points — junior Beth Starlin, the team’s second-leading scorer behind the idle Sammons, was held scoreless until getting all five of her points in the final 71 seconds — in taking advantage of some more Circleville miscues to close within 41-36 with 18 seconds left.
They would get no closer. On a night the Lady Chiefs missed a total of 62 field goal attempts — they were 1-of-29 during a stretch that began late in the second quarter until freshman Myriah Davis (a team-best 11 points) hit a three with 4:13 left in the game — there just was not enough offensive firepower available.
“We have kids who are comfortable shooting,” Chadwell said. “We probably needed to look to get the ball inside a little more tonight, but it’s not like we’re uncomfortable taking those (outside) shots. I thought the first couple shots of the first quarter put us into a flow of the game that we weren’t ready for or we didn’t want. (It was) about shooting not to miss instead of to make.
“I thought we showed our youth,” he continued. “Realistically, Beth was the only one in that game who has big-time varsity minutes in that lineup. Our youth really showed at times and we got into panic mode. We have to learn from it. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves and pout. We have to be ready to go against Chillicothe (next Thursday) and right the ship.”
“We’re a very young team,” Kalinoski said. “Turnovers have been a downfall for us. Even though we’re 3-1, we haven’t done a very good job taking care of the ball. Our starting point guard was not in tonight and her backup didn’t play either, so we were missing our better ballhandlers.
“We knew Logan has great defensive pressure and that was a big concern of ours,” he added. “We knew we’d turn it over a few times. We didn’t want it to be 30, but we’re extremely proud of our effort tonight. I thought we battled very hard for a young team.”
Ankles were a big issue for the Lady Tigers on Wednesday. Kalinoski praised senior Mallory Conner (three points, three rebounds), who also has an ankle injury, as she “stepped up and played through a lot of pain tonight. She played a nice game for us.
Logan “is an excellent basketball team,” he added. “I know Sammons was not in the lineup for some reason tonight and they have a couple other girls (out). They’ll have a very successful year once they get everybody healthy and everybody playing.”
That’s certainly what the Lady Chiefs are hoping. But until then, they’ll have to persevere without three starters, and their youngsters will have to grow up in the heat of battle.
Freshman Avery Thompson came off the Logan bench to score eight points and provide a spark, as did sophomore Emilie Eggleston, who had three points and three steals.
“An array of things can happen: injuries, foul trouble, sickness, whatever it might be, you never know what your lineup could be on any given day, so you have to be ready for your opportunity,” Chadwell said. “I thought some girls seized that today and did a good job with it and I thought others let the moment overcome them.”
Circleville 41, Logan 36
Circleville 7 9 14 11 41
Logan 3 16 5 12 36
CIRCLEVILLE 41 (3-1): Katie Knul 1-0-2, Tori Bircher 2 2-2 8, Meghan Davis 3 3-8 9, Mallory Conner 1 1-2 3, Abby Keaton 1 1-2 4, Kenzie McConnell 4 7-10 15. Totals 12 14-24 41. 3-pt FG: Bircher 2, Keaton.
LOGAN 36 (1-3): Hannah Evans 0, Emilie Eggleston 0 3-4 3, Lexis Fickel 0, Beth Starlin 2-0-5, Myriah Davis 3 4-5 11, Emmalee Dicken 0, Avery Thompson 3 1-2 8, Kaymbre Zimmerman 1 2-4 4, Peyton Lunsford 1 2-4 5. Totals 10 12-19 36. 3-pt FG: Starlin, Davis, Thompson, Lunsford.
FG: Circleville 12-30 (.400), Logan 10-72 (.139). 3-pt FG: Circleville 3-7 (.429), Logan 4-37 (.108). FT: Circleville 14-24 (.583), Logan 12-19 (.632). Rebounds: Circleville 45 (Knul 11, Davis 11, McConnell 10), Logan 38 (Lunsford 6, Starlin 5, Thompson 5). Assists: Circleville 5 (McConnell 3), Logan 6 (Starlin 2). Steals: Circleville 3 (Conner 2), Logan 16 (Starlin 5, Davis 4, Eggleston 3). Turnovers: Circleville 30, Logan 9. Fouls: Circleville 17, Logan 19. JV (two quarters): Logan 36, Circleville 11.