Zuchowski nets 1,000th point
By Greg Gulas
The Marlington High School girls basketball team is the only squad to score 50 points on West Branch this season.
The state’s No. 1 ranked team in Division II took exception to that Dec. 4 performance, responding with Monday’s 51-38 victory for the Warriors’ 19th consecutive victory.
Kayla Hovorka scored a game-high 19 points to pace the Warriors to their 13th consecutive Northeastern Buckeye Conference victory.
Natalie Zuchowski added 15 points, including her 1,000th career point in the fourth quarter, while Sarrah Tennefoss dished out 10 assists.
Hovorka had five buckets from beyond the arc and fell just one shy of the team’s single game standard. She said the key was limiting Marlington’s long-distance game.
“We wanted to limit their three-point opportunities and the goal was to hold them to 29 points or less, but 38 is still a good defensive night,” Hovorka said. “The gameplan was to shut down [Robin] Campbell, but she still got her points.
“As long as we play defense, we’re alright.”
Holding a slim 20-18 advantage at halftime, the Warriors outscored Marlington (14-5, 9-4 NBC) by a 19-8 count in the third quarter.
Zuchowski’s lay-up with 2:50 remaining gave West Branch a 45-29 lead as she became just the 10th Warriors player to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
“Honestly, I didn’t know about this until a few days ago,” Zuchowski said. “When Coach [Walt] DeShields told me about it, I was absolutely shocked.
“I have had some truly amazing teammates and coaches, and appreciate everyone who has helped me achieve this milestone.”
She said a slow start didn’t worry them.
“We had a shaky first quarter, were rushing everything and just needed to settle down,” Zuckowski said. “Holding them to eight points in the third quarter was big.”
The Warriors will enter the Austintown Division II district tournament as the No. 1 seed.
The Dukes will enter the Division II Uniontown district as its No. 1 seed. They could meet again in March.
Both teams showed why they are top seeds.
Triples by Hovorka and Tennefoss staked the Warriors to an 11-6 lead after the opening quarter.
When Hovorka hit her third triple at 5:14 of the second frame, West Branch opened a 19-13 margin.
The Warriors outscored the Dukes in the second half, 31-18 for their 10th consecutive home victory. They are 124-24 at home since their new gymnasium was erected in 2005.
“We play defense first, so coming into tonight’s game we thought about that last game quite a bit,” DeShields said. “Marlington is an excellent shooting team and our biggest concern is that they have four great shooters from the perimeter.
“It’s tough to match up with that,” DeShields said. “It was a great crowd, the girls fed off the crowd and once we settled down, we were all right.
“Kayla stretched the defense tonight and Natalie is a great kid who has worked extremely hard. She’s come a long way and to score 1,000 points, as well as her rebounding that’s a great career.
“Those are our two senior leaders. Sarrah’s 10 assists was just another indication of our excellent overall team play.”
The Dukes’ Inability To Cash In Offensively Proved Costly.