Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
BAINBRIDGE — It wasn’t pretty, it didn’t go smoothly, and it featured 66 combined foul shots.
But it was a win … the second consecutive win for Paint Valley.
Hosting Zane Trace in Scioto Valley Conference action on Tuesday, the Bearcats (4-11, 2-6 SVC) held off a late Pioneer rally to nail down a victory.
“With the schedule we play, you don’t have a lot of time to prepare. But we knew Saturday, we had to get that win over Western and it was a struggle. But we got it,” Paint Valley coach Tristan Norman said. “We came in tonight and, I don’t know if we were ready from the very beginning, but we played a better second quarter and we ended the game better than we have in awhile.”
After Saturday’s 56-42 decision over Western, on a short turnaround, Paint Valley settled in during the second half, built a double-digit lead, and eventually outlasted the Pioneers (2-11, 1-7 SVC) by hitting their free throws.
Hanna Uhrig was an imperative piece to that puzzle.
The sophomore guard led the team with 16 points and hit 8-of-11 free throw attempts. Down the stretch, Uhrig consistently knifed through ZT’s defense, drew fouls and limited turnovers.
PHOTOS: Images from Paint Valley’s 53-50 win over Zane Trace
“Hanna has a natural ability to get to the basket,” Norman said. “She’s got some things she needs to fine-tune and clean up, but every game, she’s doing a little bit better. [Paint Valley assistant] coach [Shayne] Combs teases her about ‘finding the joy.’ I think tonight, she kind of found that a little bit. She found the basket, hit her foul shots and made good decisions.”
While Uhrig shouldered the brunt of PV’s scoring opportunities, Olivia Smith cleaned the glass.
With a relentless motor, Smith posted a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. That type of performance is becoming routine for the sophomore forward.
“Olivia is a pure athlete. We know that any night, Liv is going to rebound the ball,” Norman said. “It doesn’t matter how many shots we miss, Liv is going to go chase them down for us. There’s no doubt about that. But the ball pressure that she’s been applying on the defensive end has really put us towards where we want to go. We’ve been searching for that. She’s getting her head down, getting to where we want her to be, and it’s really helping the team as a whole.”
The Pioneers seized a 6-1 lead early, behind the efforts of Gracey McCullough, Lauren Lane and Laynee Hill. But Smith and Abbi Stanforth teamed up for a 5-0 run that tied the game with 4:13 left in the first.
Lane then hit two free throws and McCullough posted back-to-back buckets as Zane Trace answered with a 6-0 run to end the quarter, taking a 12-6 lead into the second.
That’s when Paint Valley seemed to awake from its slumber.
Stanforth dialed long distance with 6:24 to go, then converted a three-point play with a bucket and a foul at the 3:46 mark, tying the game 17-17. The Bearcats took their first lead at 18-17 and stretched it to 24-19 at halftime.
In the third, McCullough scored to cut the deficit to 28-26 with 4:50 left. But turnovers led to a plethora of PV points while Uhrig and Smith made the most of their scoring opportunities in transition. The pair put the Bearcats up 41-28, completing a 13-2 run, at the 1:13 mark.
ZT’s Alexis Guffey hit a 3 to end the third, cutting the lead to 41-31 and setting the stage for the Pioneers’ fourth quarter blitz.
With 5:25 left, Guffey hit a pair of free throws to bring her team to within seven at 43-36. Lane later scored to make it a 43-39 game before McCullough later followed with a bucket, bringing the lead to 51-50 at the 1:13 mark.
But over the final minute of the game, the Bearcats held ZT scoreless while Smith fought for rebounds under the bucket. PV’s Grace Mustard eventually put the win on ice with the game’s final bucket as the Bearcats’ defense held on for a victory.
Statistically, McCullough led all scorers with 17 points alongside six rebounds. Allen ended the night with 10 points and eight boards, Lane had 10 points and two assists., and Guffey finished with seven points and a pair of assists.
Uhrig added five rebounds and two assists to her 16 points while Stanforth posted 12 points. Averi McFadden had four points and four rebounds, and Mustard tallied five points.
The Pioneers are back in action on Thursday, hosting Unioto, while Paint Valley travels to Huntington on Saturday.
“Now we have some time to prepare. We can get into practice mode a little bit,” Norman said. “That’s better than having to fix things on the fly. It makes me happy to go over to Huntington and give them a game. We have to handle [Allison] Basye and go from there. If I can get them all to play team ball and give the same defensive effort they did tonight, I think we can give Huntington a game.”
Zane Trace: 12-7-12-19 — 50
Paint Valley: 6-18-17-12 — 53
Zane Trace: 16-51 FG, 16-36 FT, 2-6 3 pt., 22 rebounds (Allen 8), 34 turnovers, 6 assists (Guffey 2, Lane 2). Scoring: McCullough 17, Lane 10, Allen 10, Guffey 7, Crow 3, Hill 2, Kerr 1.
Paint Valley: 17-43 FG, 17-30 FT, 2-12 3 pt., 36 rebounds (Smith 16), 33 turnovers, 7 assists (H. Uhrig 2, Proehl 2). Scoring: H. Uhrig 16, Stanforth 12, Smith 10, Mustard 5, McFadden 4, B. Uhrig 4, Proehl 2.