Struthers ignites in the 4th quarter
By Doug Chapin
The defenses dominated for the first three quarters on Monday night before the Struthers High girls basketball team put together a 17-point fourth quarter on the way to a 41-27 victory over Poland.
The victory avenged a 45-38 double-overtime Poland triumph on Dec. 9 on the Bulldogs’ floor.
“I thought we did better against their press,” Struthers coach John Grandy said about the difference in the two contests. “The last time we played them we turned the ball over, I think we had 28 turnovers.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Poland, but I thought our kids did a better job tonight of taking care of the ball,” Grandy said. “That was the biggest factor of the whole game.”
Struthers freshman McKenna Shives scored six of her nine points in the final quarter as the Wildcats turned a 24-19 lead after three quarters into a 39-22 advantage with 3:50 left in the game.
Shives opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a 3-pointer on an assist from Ardale, who led Struthers (10-3) with 12 points in the game.
Shives then came up with a steal on Poland’s next possession, was fouled on the way to the basket and made one free throw.
“We took care of the ball, broke the press, got down there and most of the time we got a decent shot, though both teams were a little ragged,” Grandy said. “We also rebounded well, so those are the two main things, we got on the glass and we took care of the ball.”
Poland coach Nick Blanch cited the absence for much of the game of his leading scorer, Maura Bobby.
“The biggest difference between the two games was foul trouble,” Blanch said. “Our best player and leading scorer played maybe a total of six or seven minutes.
“She had three fouls in the first half and a quick foul in the third quarter for her fourth foul,” Blanch said. “When you’re missing someone like that, obviously it hurts.
“The effort was there, but they had their go-to, Ardale, on the floor, and we had our go-to on the bench,” Blanch said. “That was the biggest difference between the two games.”
Mandy Ditman scored on a pass from Shives at the 6:28 mark for a 30-19 Struthers lead.
After a Poland 3-pointer, Ardale fed Hannah Dubec for a hoop, Shives had a steal and a basket for a 34-22 lead.
Dubec had 11 points and seven rebounds and Ditman had six points and nine rebounds as the Wildcats held a 34-19 edge in rebounding.
“We also did not box out well tonight,” Blanch said. “We did OK in the first game, but tonight their bigs got too many offensive rebounds.
“I don’t know what the numbers were but they were more aggressive on the boards tonight than we were.”
Adrianna Garcher dished out four assists for Struthers and Ardale had four steals.
Bobby finished with eight points and four steals for Poland.