Indian Creek’s defensive pressure too much for Big Red to overcome

DOWN THE MIDDLE — Steubenville’s Leah Ferguson drives between Indian Creek’s Kylie Kiger, left, and Ally Tweedy on Thursday. (Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — Indian Creek was down by a point at halftime when coach Steve Eft decided to get his girls basketball team to push the ball a little harder on offense and increase the defensive pressure to get the tempo more to his liking.

It worked, as the Redskins took the lead in the third quarter and hung on at the end for a low-scoring 39-34 win over Big Red Thursday night inside the Crimson Center.

The victory was the 13th-straight for the undefeated Redskins.

“We got the lead up to eight in the fourth quarter, but we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Eft said. “That’s a credit to them. Big Red was at home and played a really good game. They had a great game plan and did a good job of taking us out of what we like to do.

“We were able to force the tempo a little bit in the second half and get into transition, which is what we want to do.”

After being down 17-16 at halftime, Indian Creek outscored Big Red, 14-7, in the third quarter, forcing the home team to play catch-up in the fourth period.

“They (Indian Creek) are a really good team,” said Big Red coach Jeff Lombardo, whose club fell to 7-5. “They’re ranked in the state and undefeated for a reason. I think they are trending up, too. We’re a younger team and aren’t experienced playing in games like that.

“I told our kids before the game that they have to fight for four quarters because that team is going to make runs. And they did, and we continued to fight back.”

The Creek girls held a 30-24 lead with that big third quarter, but Big Red freshman Alexis Martin drained a 3 to open the fourth-quarter scoring.

Indian Creek, though, went on one of those runs Lombardo warned his girls about. When senior Taylor Scott came off the bench to score a goal from the post area with a nifty spin move, the Redskins were ahead by eight with 4:42 left in the game.

Big Red outscored Creek, 7-4, from there and closed it two points with 14 seconds left on a rebound and putback by junior Madison Fields, but it couldn’t score again.

Forced to foul as the clock was running down, Big Red sent the Redskins to the foul line. Junior Ally Tweedy made 1 of 2 charity tosses with 11.9 seconds left. Big Red lost the ball in transition — one of 26 turnovers in the game — with 5.5 seconds still on the clock. Sophomore Taylor Jones calmly went to the foul line and made both ends of a one-and-one to put the game away.

“I’m just happy for the girls to get out of here with a win,” Eft said. “Sometimes, we don’t shoot real well from the free throw line, but tonight I thought we made some big ones going down the stretch.”

Sophomore Kylie Kiger led all scorers with 15 points, including two from 3-point land. She was the only Indian Creek player in double figures. Senior Mackenzie Orban, who also made two 3-pointers, finished with eight points.

“We had ourselves in a position to come out on the winning end late in the game, but it didn’t happen,” Lombardo said. “We had a couple of shots go down, but we traveled before the shot. Indian Creek does a good job on defense forcing teams to turn the ball over. Some of the teams they play are turning the ball over 30 to 40 times a game.

“I told our girls that if we played that team three or four weeks ago, our turnovers would be in the 40s. That shows how much we have been improving. Yeah, we had 26 turnovers, but we made them turn the ball over 22 times, and they are a really good team.”

Sophomore Makayla Abram led Big Red with 13 points and Fields followed with 10.

“We’re not at the point yet where we can run up and down the floor against a team like that,” Lombardo said. “We’re getting there. We used a zone defense for the first time this year most of this game just because of that. We wanted to slow them down, and we had a chance to win at the end. I’m proud of our girls for putting up a fight for four quarters.”

Both teams play Buckeye Local in their next game. Big Red will host the Panthers Saturday with a noon jayvee start, while the Redskins will travel there on Monday.

GAMES NOTES

¯ The Big Red reserves won the preliminary game, 34-18, with Alexis Martin scoring seven points. Emily Buchanan was the high scorer for the Redskins with six points.

Indian Creek 39, Big Red 34

Indian Creek 10-6-14-9 — 39

Big Red 7-10-7-10 — 34

INDIAN CREEK (13-0): Clark 0 0-0 0, Kiger 5 3-4 15, Tweedy 0 1-2 1, Taylor 2 0-1 4, Copeland 0 0-0 0, Vandeborne 0 4-4 4, Jones 0 5-6 5, Orban 3 0-0 8, Scott 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 11 13-17 39. 3-pointers: 4 (Kiger 2, Orban 2); Rebounds: 22 (Jones 8); Turnovers 22.

BIG RED (7-5): Gulan 0 0-0 0, Marshall 1 2-2 4, Ferguson 0 1-2 1, Fields 3 4-5 10, Minniefield 1 0-0 2, Martin 1 1-3 4, Abram 4 4-6 13. TOTALS: 10 12-18 34. 3-pointers: 2 (Martin, Abram); Rebounds: 22 (Abram 7); Turnovers: 26.

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