NEW MADISON – All of the offseason training and the preseason practices were put to the test Friday night as the 2016-17 girls high school basketball season got underway.
The Ansonia Lady Tigers and Arcanum Lady Trojans led things off in the 29th annual Bill Burkett Tournament held at Tri-Village High School with the Lady Trojans coming away with a 50-31 victory.
Arcanum put on a display of long-range accuracy to open the game. The Lady Trojans first three field goals were from behind the arc and then were followed by an old-fashioned three-point play to open a 12-5 advantage with 3:30 remaining in the quarter.
The Lady Tigers cut into the lead on a field goal to make the score 12-8, but Arcanum’s Stevie Johnting, 5-foot 9-inch senior forward, who led all scorers with 24 points, dropped two baskets before the period’s end to give the Lady Trojans a 17-8 lead after one stanza.
“We drove and pitched and got a lot of open looks and knocked them down,” Lady Trojans coach Matt Grote said. “We’ve been working on getting open shots.
“Stevie shot lights out tonight,” Grote continued. “The impressive thing was how she shared the ball … She got to the rim and made passes. She hit the open man. Looked real good.”
The second quarter opened with an Arcanum 9-1 sprint-out to push the score to 28-9. The Lady Trojans would capitalize on this start to allow only five Ansonia points in the period. Arcanum switched between zone and man-to-man defenses at times just to keep the Lady Tigers off-balance. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Lady Trojans held a 37-13 lead.
The Lady Tigers found renewed energy and life during the intermission. They came out playing a more intense, aggressive style of defense that would surrender only 13 points in the second half. They had quicker hands to the ball and more loose balls seemed to find their ways into Ansonia players’ possession. If the Lady Tigers could have shot the ball better than their 11-of-43 on the night, the game would have been much closer. Ansonia won the second half scoring 18-13.
“We wanted to try to finish strong,” Ansonia coach Jim Bolin said. “We’re a fairly young team. Lost our top two scorers from last year. We didn’t give up and came out and finished strong. Arcanum has a nice team that drives the basketball well … was pleased with our second half effort.”
After Johnting’s 24 points, Arcanum got contributions from Gracie Garno with seven and McKenzie Sharritts with six. The Lady Tigers were led by Bailey Stammen with nine points.
With the victory Arcanum earned a spot in the championship while Ansonia moved on to the consolation game.