The girls varsity basketball team knew that winning a Divisional game against Solon on Feb. 4 was imperative if the Bulldogs wanted to clinch the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division title for the 2014-15 season.
In the first quarter of the game, Stow lead the game 15-2. Solon took advantage of some foul trouble by Stow late in the game to finish regulation tied at 58-58. Solon would go on to win 71-67 in double overtime.
“We had Chrissie [Vaughan] and Morgan [Thompson] foul out,” Coach Podges said in an interview with Michael Leonard. “It was a very physical game. It was a well-played game. Our younger kids had a hard time with some of the Solon pressure. We had some rushed shots and some turnovers [in the fourth quarter] that allowed them to get back in the game.”
For the first time all season, Stow worked out of a 2-2-1 zone defensively. The game could not have begun much better for the team, with their 13 point lead after the first quarter.
“We did some things differently on defense,” Podges said. “We tried to take the driving lanes away from them.”
The changes worked to a par, as seen in their 13-point lead.
Even after Solon’s offense made adjustments to the zone defense put on by Stow, the Comets couldn’t find a way back into the game and put some points up on offense.
The Bulldogs still led 30-20 at halftime and 47-35 after three quarters.
The trouble for Stow started early in the fourth quarter, when Vaughan fouled out with about five minutes to go in regulation.
With the Bulldogs’ starting point guard sidelined, Solon’s full-court pressure defense went into attack mode.
“They did the same thing they always have done,” Podges said. “We had to make some adjustments with some of our young kids on the floor. Obviously, we don’t spend a lot of time practicing zone, either. So not all of our kids were fully prepared.”
Things got worse for Stow in the following minutes. During a scramble on the floor for ball, Thompson got hit her face on the gym floor and lost a tooth.
Thompson returned to the game in overtime but would foul out in the first minutes.
Despite the loss of two starting guards, Stow was able to hang on and force overtime again and limit Solon to four points; however, Solon out-scored Stow 9-4 in the second overtime to claim the win.
Vaughan and Thompson led Stow with 16 points each. Fellow senior guard Sam Shaver scored 14 points.
Despite the loss, Podges said he was happy with his team’s effort.
“I’m very pleased with what we did,” Podges said. “When we have our whole team on the floor, we showed what we can do now. We’ve been playing very good ball since Jan. 1 against some very good teams. It prepared us last night to go to the tournament.”
Podges notes Solon is “pretty well set” to claim the Valley Division crown after beating Stow Feb. 4 and smashing Mentor 72-40 Jan. 31.