Rockets’ fast start stops Dons

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The momentum of an overtime win wasn’t enough to stop a Rocket repeat.

The Conotton Valley girls basketball team was clicking early and cruised to a 46-30 win over Madonna in the OVAC Class 1A championship game on Saturday.

“I thought we came out intense,” said Rockets coach Chandra Myers. “We got off to a great start.”

Conotton Valley forced 11 Blue Dons turnovers before they recorded their first points. An Aubrey Platek lay up at the 1:28 mark of the first quarter was the only bucket made by Madonna as it trailed 18-2 after the first eight minutes.

“They got us out of sync with our offense,” said Blue Dons coach Don Ogden. “They took away a lot of the passing lanes and defended very well.”

Madonna (10-8), which edged Morgantown Trinity 39-38 in overtime on Thursday, struggled to get anything going in the second quarter, too. Monica Bragg scored all seven points in the frame and converted just one field goal, coming at the 1:50 mark.

In the first half, though, the Blue Dons could only attempt 11 shots from the floor.

“Our defense was strong and intense,” Myers said. “That’s something we really focus on as a team. It works for us and keeps us in games when our shots aren’t falling.”

The Rockets (19-0) are currently ranked No. 7 in the Ohio Division IV state pool. They defeated St. John Central, 50-26, in the 2013 OVAC title game before finishing with a 15-7 record.

However, they were knocked out of the playoffs in last year’s first sectional game.

“Our goal now is to make it out of sectionals,” said Myers, a former player at Ohio University. “We want to start off a get that first win. Going from there, we want to play hard and play with heart.”

Olivia Bower, a junior and 1,000-point scorer, netted a game-high 25 points with nine rebounds and seven blocks.

“I don’t have enough adjectives to describe what she can do,” Ogden said. “She can shoot inside, she can shoot outside. She’s a tough rebounder, tough defender. She’s a good ballplayer.”

Bragg led the Blue Dons with 15 points, six blocks, five rebounds and four steals. The sophomore also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.

Rachel Grubbs added six points with five boards, Isabella Rosso had three points, while Cameron Dowiak and Becca Holt each had two.

The Rockets largest lead was 20 before Madonna cut it to 13 early in the fourth quarter.

“Overall, we played hard,” Ogden said. “As the game progressed, I thought we adjusted a little bit to the pressure and made somewhat of a comeback.

“When you play a team like Conotton Valley, as good as they are, when you go down by that much a comeback is hard to come by. Our girls still made a valiant effort.”

The Blue Dons did force 18 turnovers, headlined by three steals by Platek. Each team shot well at the foul line as Madonna went 7 for 7 and the Rockets went 12 for 13.

Piper Edie and Chandice Cottis each finished with seven points for Conotton Valley.

The Blue Dons have four regular season games remaining, starting at Weir High on Monday.

“We’ll get over it,” Ogden said. “We’ll rebound. Knowing this squad, they’re going to come out fighting on Monday against Weir.”