Hanna Uhrig
John Bruce

John Bruce

Paint Valley cruises by Valley to start season on right foot

The Bearcats started their season with a double-digit road win.

John Bruce, Staff Writer

LUCASVILLE — Due to a clock malfunction, the Paint Valley Bearcats led 6-0 with a full eight minutes to go in the first quarter during Saturday’s season-opener at Valley. 

Paint Valley’s Kendall Dye (right) congratulates teammate Olivia Smith after a play during a win at Piketon last winter.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

And the Bearcats never looked back from that moment. 

A balanced effort led Paint Valley to a 41-30 road victory over the Indians to start their season.

“It feels good. We’re seniors and we’re starting out 1-0,” Paint Valley’s Olivia Smith said. “We were just ready for the season to begin.”

Back-to-back treys from Averi McFadden and Abbi Stanforth got the Bearcats started while a stingy defense stifled Valley throughout the evening, holding the Indians to 24 percent shooting from the floor. 

However, despite a quick start, Valley’s aggressive 2-3 defensive scheme caused the Bearcats problems throughout the first half, limiting players without the last name of Stanforth to two field goals. 

Meanwhile, Stanforth went 4-of-6 from distance in the first half, helping push her team out to an 18-15 lead at the break. Valley was led by Lexie Morrow’s six points as the slick sophomore used her exquisite spin move to get to the basket repeatedly. 

“Since it’s our senior year, it’s really like now or never,” Stanforth said. “We’re going to go out every night and play our hardest. I wasn’t missing a shot in warm-ups, so when I went out on the court [during the game], I shot with confidence. My team had my back.”

Neither team had an ideal start to the second half — the Indians outscored the Bearcats 2-1 in the first four minutes. But that’s when a masterful halftime adjustment began to come to fruition.

Due to excellent ball movement and movement away from the ball, the Bearcats found McFadden open in the corner, where she splashed a deep 3. On the following possession, Olivia Smith began to come alive with a putback basket that forced an Indians timeout. 

Smith, who averaged 12 points and nearly 16 rebounds per game as a junior, had been held to two points and two rebounds in the opening half. That quickly changed following that bucket, helping the Bearcats to pull away. 

Smith scored inside again, leading to her being double-teamed on the ensuing possession. That’s where she hit classmate Hanna Uhrig at the top of the key. Uhrig, who made 37 treys a season ago, knocked down the shot to push the Bearcats lead to 10. 

“Anyone on the court at any time can knock down a shot,” Smith said. “Having three people on you at once makes it really hard. When someone slides, and I can make that pass, we can be unstoppable.”

Following a turnover, the Bearcats held for the last shot of the quarter. McFadden connected with Smith, who made a post move and scored right before the buzzer sounded to give Paint Valley a 30-18 lead after three. 

During the final quarter, Smith and Kendall Dye controlled the boards for the Bearcats to keep the Indians at bay. A late flurry of 3’s from Savannah Easter and Emilie Johnson brought the Indians to within nine at 39-30. But Stanforth put a capper on her outstanding evening with a pair of free throws to complete the scoring and put the game away. 

Stanforth led all scorers with 16 points, while Smith tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The senior duo combined for 13 steals in the game as well. Valley was led by Morrow with nine points and five rebounds while Easter added eight points and six rebounds. 

Paint Valley returns to action on Wednesday, traveling to Latham to take on Western. The Indians begin Southern Ohio Conference play on Monday as they travel to McDermott to battle the Northwest Mohawks.

BOX SCORE

Paint Valley: 12-6-12-11 — 41

Valley: 8-7-3-12 — 30

Paint Valley: 12-39 FG, 10-21 FT, 7-20 3pt., 37 rebounds (Smith 10), 19 turnovers, 8 assists (Smith 4). Scoring: Stanforth 16, Smith 12, McFadden 7, Uhrig 4, Dye 1, Mettler 1

Valley: 11-45 FG, 5-11 FT, 3-20 3pt., 35 rebounds (Whitt 7), 19 turnovers, 5 assists (Dunham 3). Scoring: Morrow 9, Easter 8, Johnson 5, Whitt 5, Montgomery 2, Dunham 1

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