Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
LUCASVILLE — On multiple occasions Saturday, Valley let a five to six-point lead slip away.
The Indians also committed 23 turnovers, they were out-rebounded by a 43-22 margin, and they sent their opponent to the foul line 39 times.
But at the end of the day, they got a win … and that trumps any unattractive statistic.
Valley (4-8) outlasted visiting Adena in overtime by a 56-55 final in non-league play, handing the Warriors’ just their fifth loss this season. And while it wasn’t pretty, the program will take a ‘W’ any way they can.
“We’re struggling this year. We’ve been in some games but we’re not playing quite well,” Valley coach Mark Merritt said. “I think [Adena’s] defense is what kept them in the game. We had 23 turnovers and, again, I think we shot ourselves in the foot. We’re also getting out-rebounded. Adena’s length was something we had to contend with. But we just kept battling and working hard. We tried to spread the floor on them and that hurt them in the long run.”
Valley’s spacing led to an unlikely hero leading the team in scoring. Junior Caitlin Kennard hit the 3-ball time and time again, consistently putting a dent in a deficit or stopping an Adena run.
Kennard finished with a game-high 15 points, all of which came from beyond the arc.
“It takes somebody coming off the bench like Caitlin. She knows what her job is, she stays wide and and she spreads the floor for Bre [Call] and Karsyn [Conaway],” Merritt said. “If [the defense] doesn’t pinch, then we’re going to take it to the hole and try to get to the line. I also want to give a shoutout to Natalie Buckle, who gave us some great defensive minutes today. We went to a 1-3-1 and it seemed to confuse them a little bit.”
Call and Conaway were their usual selves, combining to score 26 points and grab nine rebounds. The two seniors were the glue that kept the team together when they game looked to be swinging in Adena’s favor.
“We knew we had to take care of the ball because Adena was going to be on us the entire time,” Call said. “We really practiced on our press and that we weren’t throwing any stupid passes. We had to find the open shooter, which we did, and we just kept hitting shots.”
The duo led the Indians on an 8-1 run to begin the game before Valley took a 13-5 lead into the second quarter. Trailing 13-7, Adena’s Emma Curry buried two consecutive 3’s to tie the game with 5:21 left in the first half. The Indians then took an 18-13 lead before Adena’s Hannah Stark dialed long distance with just 43.2 seconds left to force a 20-20 tie.
After the Warriors’ Chey Ater hit the front end of two free throws with just 0.3 seconds left, Adena took a 21-20 lead into the break.
In the third, the Warriors (9-5) extended their lead to 36-33 by outscoring Valley 15-13. With 5:06 left in the fourth, Valley’s Brooklyn Buckle hit a putback to tie the game, 40-40, before the Indians took a 44-42 lead at the 3:50 mark, thanks to a 3 from Kennard.
Kennard then hit another triple to make it 47-42 but the Indians allowed Adena to go on an 8-0 run and take a 50-47 lead with just 2:06 left. However, down 50-49 after a bucket from Call, sophomore Haley Whitt stepped to the free throw line and hit the back end of two foul shots to send the game into overtime.
In the extra four-minute time frame, Adena had a 54-51 edge with 2:08 remaining. But Call led a 4-0 run to put Valley ahead 55-54. Adena’s Jadyn Smith then hit a single free throw with 38.2 seconds left, forcing another tie. That’s when Haley Whitt stepped to the line with 1.1 seconds left on the game clock, and sank the game-winner.
“We really needed this win. It was an intense game the entire time,” Conaway said. “We really just had to count on each other. We played hard and, at one point, it only matters if you have more points than them at the end of the game.”
After Kennard’s 15 points, Call had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. Conaway added 12 points and five boards, and Buckle ended the day with 11 points and six rebounds.
For Adena, both Stark and Smith ended with 13 points while Stark also grabbed six rebounds. Ater finished with nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds while Curry had six points.
Valley will now looks towards an SOC II matchup with Wheelersburg on Monday while Adena tries to bounce back on Tuesday, traveling to Westfall for an SVC bout.
“This win helps a little bit going into Monday’s game. But we know we’re going to go against a ‘Burg team that has just as much depth as Adena does,” Merritt said. “They’re going to run and down the floor. But I was pleased with my bench today. Just doing what we were told and our reaction time was a lot better than it has been in the past.”
Adena: 5-16-15-14 (5) — 55
Valley: 13-7-13-17 (6) — 56
Adena: 15-59 FG, 20-39 FT, 5-18 3 pt., 43 rebounds (Ater 17), 18 turnovers, 3 assists (Makaela Lovely 3). Scoring: Stark 13, Smith 13, Ater 9, Curry 6, Foglesong 5, Makenna Lovely 4, Martin 3, French 2.
Valley: 21-44 FG, 9-20 FT, 5-18 3 pt., 22 rebounds (Buckle 6), 23 turnovers, 9 assists (Call 4). Scoring: Kennard 15, Call 14, Conaway 12, Buckle 11, Whitt 4.