Tyler Hart, Contributor
FRANKFORT — Still standing undefeated are the Adena Warriors. Perfect no more are the Paint Valley Bearcats.
Coach Andrew Day’s group earned that right with a hard-fought 37-27 win over Paint Valley in Scioto Valley Conference action on Tuesday.
The win sets up yet another battle of unbeatens on Thursday when Adena (5-0, 4-0 SVC) travels to Unioto — a matchup that will give one team sole possession of first place in the conference.
“I think our shots were finally falling,” Adena’s Caelan Miner said. “In the past few games, that hasn’t happened. We were just having to get close to the rim, go up with contact and finish through. But now, our perimeter shots are starting to fall. I think that’s what kept us going.”
Paint Valley (6-1, 3-1 SVC) opened the night with the first score, coming from Olivia Smith, who was sent to the free throw line with 4:21 left in the first quarter.
Adena responded a minute later behind a drive to the bucket from Jadyn Smith that was later followed up with an open corner 3-pointer via Miner. The Warriors held Paint Valley to zero field goals in the quarter, but the Bearcats found themselves going 5-for-6 at the charity stripe to stay in the game, trailing Adena 9-5 after one.
The second opened with another trip to the line for Paint Valley.
Abbi Stanforth went 1-for-2, trimming Adena’s lead to 9-6 but the Warriors then found their rhythm with four scorers finding their shot in the quarter.
Chey Ater and Miner would find themselves scoring before the Bearcats made a late push. Down 13-6, Paint Valley stayed calm, cool and collected — especially Hanna Uhrig. The Bearcats’ guard led the charge in cutting into the deficit.
That process started when she went 2-for-2 at the line with 5:38 to play in the half before finding herself finishing at the rim for Paint Valley’s first field goal, coming at the 4:21 mark in the second. Uhrig then made a cut to the basket and hit a layup with 2:16 to play, capping a 6-0 run by herself and bringing her Bearcats to within one at 13-12.
Adena stood tall to the challenge, however, and kept the lead. The Warriors responded with a 4-0 run to close out the half behind scores from Smith and Makaela Lovely, producing a 17-12 halftime tally.
“Paint Valley was much more aggressive tonight denying the wings and pressuring the basketball,” Adena coach Andrew Day said. “To their credit, they got after us.”
Both teams continued to keep the score close in the second half.
Adena, however, was always one step ahead.
Smith opened the third in scoring as she laid the ball off the backboard before Emma Garrison found her first basket with some flash. Standing in front of the Adena bench, she started back towards the basket and turned around to size up her defender behind the arch. She then let go of a smooth shot that found nothing but the net, extending the Warriors’ lead to 22-12.
Miner then added a 3-ball herself to make it a 25-14 game.
Paint Valley, however, forced Adena scoreless for the remainder of the quarter, starting at the 3:41 mark.
Stanforth scored on a jump shot with 3:12 to play in the third before Bella Stauffer and Smith closed out the quarter’s scoring. With a power move underneath, Smith converted a layup with 1:07 left and then followed up an offensive rebound with a putback in the closing seconds, trimming Adena’s edge from 25-14 to 25-21.
Jadyn Smith started the final quarter of play with two consecutive scores before Lovely got in the mix, scoring on a back-door pass under the rim. That burst extended the advantage to 31-21.
Adena stayed out in front and forced Paint Valley to get into foul trouble late.
Both Smith and Uhrig would foul out in the fourth. Smith collected her fifth foul on the night at the 3:11 mark before Uhrig followed suit. That allowed Adena to hang onto a key 10-point win.
Adena closed the night at 6-for-11 from the free throw line in the fourth, a mark that was much better than in previous games.
In last week’s matchup with Huntington, the Warriors had their struggles at the line when the collective group shot 9-for-28.
“We’ve spent a lot of time the last three days on free throw shooting. It wasn’t great but it was certainly better,” Day said. “When playing a team like Paint Valley, you have to be much calmer to close those games out and I thought we did a good job with that.”
Smith led Adena with 11 points and three rebounds while Miner added 10 points. Garrison finished with eight points, six rebounds and two assists, and Ater had four points and three boards.
Uhrig paced the Bearcats with 11 points while Smith had seven points and 11 rebounds. Stanforth also helped out with five points.
What’s on tap
Both teams are back in league action on Thursday. Adena travels to Unioto while Paint Valley travels to Westfall.
“We have to prepare and know what to expect,” Day said. “It’s a challenge that we are excited to have. We are excited to play these types of games and in these environments.”