Panthers give Wildcats plenty of headaches

MANEUVERING AROUND — Buckeye Local’s Emily Holzopfel posts up against Edison’s Tommi McConnell (4) and Lauren Ferralli (22) on Thursday. Also shown are Edison’s Sami Springer (33) and Buckeye’s Angelina Piergallini (4). (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

RICHMOND — The Buckeye Local girls basketball team found its groove during the second quarter of Thursday’s matchup with Edison and never looked back, continually building a lead en route to a 58-26 victory.

“Once we established our pace and our tempo, we pretty much took the game over,” Buckeye Local coach Tom Figurski said. “Edison always plays us tough here, but we just came in and decided to take the game over.”

Emily Holzopfel had a big night for the Panthers, recording a game-high 25 points and shooting 5-of-8 from the free throw line. She also compiled three assists and five rebounds.

“It’s fantastic,” Holzopfel said. “I think we can still improve on offense and defense, but we did a good job tonight to win. I don’t really focus on myself, I am focused on the team and helping us get a win.”

The Panthers (3-1) were aggressive in forcing turnovers all night, getting the Wildcats (1-3) to commit 32 of them by the time the clock hit zero.

“If we are more physical than the other team, we play well,” Figurski said. “It’s all part of being aggressive. We had a game last week where we weren’t quite as aggressive, and we lost the ballgame. We’ve been working on the defensive end to up our aggressiveness, and it is paying off.”

It is the second time in as many games the Wildcats have turned the ball over more than 30 times.

“All the teams in this valley are aggressive,” Edison coach Jeff Stone said. “I’ve tried to instill that into our girls, but for some reason they haven’t picked that up yet. If teams are aggressive on us, for some reason, we just panic. We’ve got to keep working; (today’s) practice will be interesting.

“I hope it turns around because I am tired of looking up at the scoreboard and seeing we are behind by 20 or 30 points.”

Edison’s offense has gotten off to a slow start, scoring just seven points on Monday against Indian Creek, something that is very frustrating for Stone.

“We can’t make anything right now,” Stone said. “We shoot a hundred shots every day in practice. We go through a system of shooting 3’s, shooting layups, shooting elbows. I don’t know. I can’t go out and shoot for them; that’s our downfall. Our offense has not come around yet.”

After a tightly contested opening quarter that saw the Panthers take a 10-6 advantage, Buckeye Local got rolling, outscoring the Wildcats 19-4 in the second eight minutes to open up a 29-10 halftime lead. Holzopfel forced a steal and fed Alairs Destifanes (17 points) for a layup late in the quarter to provide an exclamation point on the Panthers run.

The closest quarter was the third, with Buckeye Local only outscoring Edison 12-11, but the Wildcats still found themselves in a 20-point hole headed to the fourth.

The Panthers finished strong, putting up another 17 in the final quarter to pull even further ahead for a 32-point victory away from home.

To go with her 17 points, Destifanes added a team-high six assists and three rebounds for the Panthers. Megan Valuska netted 10 points, two assists and six rebounds. Carrie Dill came off the bench and pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds.

“I couldn’t ask for a better team,” Figurski said. “No one is selfish. We rely on (Holzopfel) to carry the weight, but we even got contributions from a freshman tonight. Carrie Dill is just a terror on the glass. She’s a quality sixth person off the bench, and when she gets in there, she just controls the boards on offense and defense.”

Edison’s efforts were led by eight points, an assist and a game-high 13 rebounds from Kayla Huff. Sami Springer had five points and four rebounds.

The Panthers are back in action Monday at home against East Liverpool. Edison is also home on Monday, taking on Oak Glen.

Game notes:

Buckeye Local also won the jayvee game in a much closer contest, 15-13. The Panthers were led by eight points from Audrey Sebring. Edison got four points from Sydney Keenan.

Buckeye Local 58, Edison 26

Buckeye Local 10-19-12-17 — 58

Edison 6-4-11-5 — 26

Buckeye Local (3-1): Rachel Moore 0 0-1 0; Maddie Gill 1 0-0 2; Skylar Langford 1 0-0 2; Brook Miller 1 0-0 2; Megan Valuska 4 2-2 10; Emily Holzopfel 9 5-8 25; Alairs Destifanes 8 0-1 17. TOTALS 24, 7-12, 58. Three-pointers: Holzopfel 2, Destifanes 1. Rebounds: 38 (Dill 10). Turnovers: 21.

Edison (1-3): Brenstuhl 2 0-3 5; Potkrajac 0 0-1 0; Patterson 2 0-1 4; Huff 3 2-5 8; Ferralli 2 0-0 4; Springer 2 0-0 5. TOTALS: 11, 2-10, 26.

3-POINT GOALS: Brenstuhl 1, Springer 1. Rebounds: 32 (Huff 13). Turnovers: 32.