STOW: A strong defensive effort by the host Stow girl’s basketball team led the Bulldogs to a dominant 62-41 win over Jackson on Thursday night.
Stow (9-2, 2-2) took a 28-24 lead into halftime after trailing 20-16 at the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs turned up the defensive intensity at the end of the first half to set the tone for how the rest of the game played out.
Stow coach Bob Podges said the team prides itself on playing great defense.
“Give Jackson credit, they came out early and hit some shots,” Podges said. “But its evidence of our defensive effort since they only scored 21 total points after the first quarter.”
Behind 12 points by junior forward Madi Baer and 10 points by senior guard Abbie Lawson, Stow outscored Jackson 16-10 in the third quarter to take a 44-34 lead and never looked back.
“We are playing really well right now, but we need to continue to play defense the way we’ve been playing and distribute the ball on offense moving forward,” Podges said.
For Jackson (5-5), the game was summed up by lack of shot attempts, poor rebounding and turnovers.
Jackson coach Harold Fisher said his team’s offense failed to set screens and was never able to establish an offensive rebounding presence. The Polar Bears had just five total offensive boards in the final three quarters.
“They were really executing their half court defense,” Fisher said of the Bulldogs. “They play good half court defense, and we failed to execute.”
Fisher said his team is young, and it’s even more important to continue to grow through the struggles.
“They’ve got to learn to run the offense the whole way through instead of throwing just two passes and expecting something to happen,” Fisher said.
Jackson shot just 14-of-38 from the floor in the game, while tallying 24 rebounds and 20 turnovers.
The bright spot for the Polar Bears was sophomore point guard Landrie Grace who scored 10 points, while leading the offense.
“She’s unbelievable at times, but sometimes she tries to do too much because she knows she can,” Fisher said. “But once she learns how to play within the system, she’s going to be explosive.”
On the other side, the Bulldog offense proved efficient as the team shot 41 percent (26-of-63) and featured a balanced scoring attack.
Aside from Baer and Lawson, three others -- Danielle Tiller (9), Chrissie Vaughan (9), Sam Shaver (8) -- just missed hitting the double digit scoring mark.
Podges said shot distribution is key for the offense, and it’s the fourth or fifth consecutive game the Bulldogs have been able to find that balance.
“One of the things we preached all preseason long was floor balance and the ability we have as a team to play seven, eight, nine, 10 kids,” Podges said.
Fisher said the Polar Bears needs to improve its on-the-ball defense moving ahead in the season. Jackson will host North Canton Hoover on Saturday.
Stow will also play Saturday as they face a tough challenge from Solon.
“Its always tough to play a team as strong as they are, but we are looking forward to it,” Podges said.