Union Local wins Buckeye 8 title, hands Creek first defeat
CONNORVILLE — It’s amazing how quickly momentum can swing.
Indian Creek was starting to feel really good about itself and was staring up at just a four-point deficit shortly before halftime of Saturday night’s Buckeye 8 Girls Basketball Championship Game at Buckeye Local High School.
Union Local sophomore Hannah Merritt made sure it was the Jets who went into the locker room with the momentum by hitting a 40-foot buzzer beater to give the Jets a seven-point lead in which they built on with an impressive third quarter and finished with a convincing 64-45 victory in the ‘Meetin’ of unbeatens’ with the Redskins.
“That (shot) changed our whole outlook going into halftime,” UL head coach Rob Barr said. “I had a big halftime speech planned for going in up four, and then we went up seven and it all changed.”
As quickly as Barr’s halftime speech changed, so did Indian Creek head coach Steve Eft’s words, too.
“I don’t even think (Union Local) knew exactly how much time was left (when she took the shot),” Eft said. “I thought they were going to run the clock out, but then it was … bang from 40 feet.”
And, as the ball went through the net and the horn sounded, the Redskins fully realized they were up against it.
With freshman Reagan Vinskovich and junior guard Casey Kildow fueling the offensive charge in the third, the Jets outscored Creek, 15-7, in the third and then continued to add on in the fourth.
“When you play a good team, sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way,” Eft said. “I thought we missed a lot of easy shots early, but we settled down and battled back. It was just one of those nights. I thought we lost our composure in the third quarter a little bit.”
The win makes the Jets 18-0 and gives them their first league title in girls basketball since 2015.
“This means the world because it’s their first one of hopefully many,” Barr said. “I told the girls, in the locker room, ‘You’re going to have a lot of chances to win championships, but you better relish (the opportunity) when you get them because you may not win them all.'”
This marks the first of several crowns the Jets hope to add to their list of accomplishments this winter. Next up will be the OVAC title, which will be determined, starting a week from Monday when they host an opponent to be determined in the Class 3A tournament.
Indian Creek (16-1), meanwhile, realizes it’s season is far from over. The Redskins are still well on their way to hosting an opening-round OVAC tournament game, as well.
“We still have goals ahead,” Eft said. “We need to put it behind us and get ready for Monday.”
Though the Jets and Redskins had yet to meet in the regular season, they were certainly familiar with one another from an early November scrimmage.
“We knew how good of a team they are, what we were getting into and we came in confident,” Barr said. “We had a lot of girls step up. Every girl (who played) had a great game, and that’s what it takes.”
Before emptying his bench when the game was out of reach, Union Local played just six players. Four of his five starters had double figures, and Kildow finished with nine.
Vinskovich was a tough matchup for the Redskins. She scored 21 points and collected 14 rebounds, both were game-high totals. Merritt finished with 13 points, while sophomore Keira Gregor added 11 and freshman Torre Kildow found her way to 10 despite battling foul trouble.
Indian Creek was led by Makenzie Taylor’s 14. Talented junior guard Kylie Kiger had 12 and junior Hailey Clark finished with nine.
Here’s a look at the four other games played at Buckeye Local High School Saturday:
Martins Ferry 69,
Beaver Local 37
Just five days after falling at Beaver Local, Martins Ferry shot out to an 18-8 lead after one and never looked back en route to victory.
The Purple Riders received a huge game from senior post Richella Spielvogel, who scored 23. Classmate Madison Ging finished with 16 and sophomore Allarah Jones added 15 off the bench.
Beaver Local was led by West Liberty signee Jenna Riccardo and sophomore Elizbaeth Kolkowski. Each had 12.
East Liverpool 43
Katrina Davis was up to her same old tricks, as she recorded her second triple-double of the week and came up a steal shy of setting an OHSAA record, as the Big Reds rolled past East Liverpool.
Davis scored 31 points, had 18 steals and 10 rebounds. Her steal total is tied for the second most in Ohio history.
Backing Davis’ production was Mia Gavarkavich, who poured in 17. Emma Ludwig led the Potters with 22.
St. Clairsville 53,
Buckeye Local 29
The Red Devils picked up a key win for their OVAC tournament hopes against the Panthers thanks to solid scoring from Macy Malin and Keri Klinkoski. Each had 14 points to lead the Red Devils.
Buckeye Local was paced by Megan Valuska’s eight.
Harrison Central 36
The Wildcats avenged an earlier setback to the Huskies with a win in a game that featured upwards of 50 personal fouls and 66 free throws.
Edison was led by Savanna Ankrom’s 15. Alysea Fiedorczyk added eight. Harrison Central was led by McKayla Dunkle’s nine.
Union Local 64, Indian Creek 45
UL 16-14-15-19 — 64
IC 10-13-7-15 — 45
UNION LOCAL: C. Kildow 4, 0-0 9; T. Kildow 5, 0-0 10; Merritt 6, 0-1 13; Gregor 5, 1-2 11; Vinskovich 10, 1-4 21; Rex 0, 0-0 0; TOTALS: 30, 2-7: 64.
INDIAN CREEK: Kiger 5, 0-0 12; Tweedy 1, 0-0 2; Taylor 7, 0-0 14; Jones 3, 2-3 8; Clark 3, 1-3 9; Copeland 0, 0-0 0; Lewis 0, 0-0 0; TOTALS: 19, 3-6: 45.
3-POINT GOALS: UL 2 (Merritt, C. Kildow); IC 4 (Kiger 2, Clark 2).