CIRCLEVILLE — A strong Miami Trace start gave way to Circleville’s defense as the Tigers opened the season with a 39-29 win over the visiting Panthers Friday night.
“In our scrimmages, we’ve been really, really effective offensively and our defense has been hit or miss,” Circleville coach Brian Bigam said. “We haven’t played defense like I want us to play defense.”
After starting the game playing a zone defense and allowing Miami Trace more success than he liked, Bigam switched his team to a man-to-man defense that forced seven Miami Trace turnovers in the second quarter as an 11-7 MT lead after the first quarter became a 19-18 Circleville lead at halftime.
“We didn’t do a very good job executing and Circleville’s defense clamped down on us pretty good,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley said. “We’re still very young in some spots and this will be a game we learn from and get a lot better.
“We were very pleased with most of the first quarter but then I thought we got in a hurry offensively. The worse we got on offense, the worse we were on defense. We started standing and watching.”
Jordin Blakeman had all seven of Circleville’s points in the first quarter, but the Tigers were able to get more players involved offensively in the second quarter, including Bryce DeLong who had back-to-back three pointers to tie the game at 15-15.
“Bryce was clutch for us because we were struggling offensively,” Bigam said. “She hit those back-to-back threes to tie it up for us and that allowed our girls offensively to take a breath and slow it down. We played a lot better after that.”
The second half got off to a slow start offensively with Miami Trace’s Tanner Bryant putting in a basket about midway through to give the Panthers a 20-19 lead. The rest of the scoring in the quarter came on Circleville’s end with the Tigers leading 29-20 going into the final period.
Bryant was the Panthers’ leading scorer with 11 points and Bigam was pleased that’s all she ended up with.
“I think Bryant is a really nice player and I thought Jordin Blakeman’s defense tonight was exceptional. I thought she kept her in check,” Bigam said.
Hanna Reisinger added 10 points for the Panthers.
Blakeman led the Tigers with 13 points and Lili Kawasaki put in 10.
Circleville had a 38-30 rebounding edge in the game with Blakeman grabbing 10 and Kawasaki eight. Sam Ritenour led the Panthers with nine and Bryant had six.
The Panthers don’t have any time to feel bad about the loss as they’re right back on the court today at Madison Plains with the tipoff coming around noon.
“It will be good for the kids. It will be good for them to go tomorrow and get right back at it,” Ackley said. “I thought we should have been a lot better than what we were tonight. I don’t think it was nerves or anxiety, I think it was lack of execution. They’re all fixable errors.”
Starting with a win was important for the Tigers to get the new season started on the right foot.
“We’re experienced in my eyes, but we graduated four seniors last year,” Bigam said. “I’m sure a lot of people do have question marks about what we were going to be able to come out and be able to do. The girls have the confidence they need and the coaches are confident.”
The Tigers will be back in action Tuesday night against Canal Winchester.
Miami Trace will play at East Clinton for the SCOL opener Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
• Miami Trace was a 31-19 winner in the reserve game.
Tori Evans led the Panthers with seven points while Becca Ratliff, Jessica Camp and Morgan Miller each scored six, Rachael Campbell had four and Lena Steele scored two.
Abby Keaton led the Tigers with 10 points, Shayna Hoop put in six and Stone Parsons had three.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 11 7 2 9 — 29
C 7 12 10 10 — 39
MIAMI TRACE — Johnston 1-0-2, Lovett 0-3-3, Ratcliff 1-0-3, Reisinger 3-2-10, Bryant 4-2-11. Three-point goals — Ratcliff, Reisinger (2), Bryant. TOTALS — 9-45 7-10 29.
CIRCLEVILLE — A DeLong 1-0-2, B DeLong 2-0-6, Anya Bingman 3-0-6, Lili Kawasaki 4-2-10, Bircher 0-2-2, Blakeman 6-1-13. Three-point goals — B DeLong (2). TOTALS — 16-44 5-9 39.