SIDNEY – Mississinawa Valley had a good start to Tuesday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament game against Russia, but the Raiders’ talent and depth was too much for the Blackhawks to overcome in a 77-23 loss.
“I thought in the beginning the girls were competing,” Mississinawa Valley girls basketball coach Vance Venesky said. “And then I thought we hit a wall as far as offensively goes, and against a team like Russia you can’t let up during any part of a game. Girls were trying the best as they could but the girls from Russia really deserve to win, and they’re one of the better teams we played this year.”
Mississinawa Valley had leads of 3-0 and 6-5 with a pair of early 3-pointers by Leah Scholl, and just over two minutes into the contest Russia used a timeout to regroup.
From there, though, Russia began to take control and scored 13 of the final 15 points in the opening period – with MV’s Kya Lavy scoring the other 2 – to put the Raiders up 18-8 at the end of the opening quarter.
“It was good,” Venesky said of the Blackhawks’ play early in Tuesday’s game. “We had a game plan where we were doing a box and one on their point guard, and it seemed to be working, kind of threw them off kilter a little bit. We hit a couple 3s by Leah Scholl, and we were kind of in the game there in the beginning.”
The rest of the night it was all Russia, starting with a 21-0 run to start the second quarter. Almost six-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter Bailey Johnson hit a 3-pointer to break the MV drought then in the final seconds of the half Sidnie Hunt made a basket, but Mississinawa trailed 41-13 at halftime.
Russia outscored Mississinawa Valley 24-2 in the third quarter to increase its lead to 65-15. Lavy scored the Hawks’ only points of the quarter, during which the OHSAA’s new running clock rule was implemented because of the large deficit.
“As the game wore on their depth was definitely better than our depth,” Venesky said. “My girls gave what they had, and I’m just proud of them.”
The Raiders scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to push their advantage to a game-high 60 points. Mississinawa Valley scored 8 of the final 11 points in the game with Hunt, Lindsay Johns and Taylor Stachler each contributing, bringing the final score to 77-23 and ending the Blackhawks’ season.
“For the most part the girls that were there tonight had great attitudes throughout the year, and I was really proud of the way that they played throughout the year,” Venesky said.
Scholl led Mississinawa Valley with 6 points. Also for the Blackhawks, Hunt scored 5 points, Lavy scored 4, Johns scored 3, Johnson scored 3, and Stachler scored 2.
Cameo Wilson led Russia with a game-high 22 points. Also for the Raiders, Jenna Cordonnier scored 14 points, Ashley Scott scored 11, Laurissa Poling scored 9, Whitney Pleiman scored 7, Jessica York scored 5, Olivia Moorman scored 3, Shea Borchers scored 2, Alana Gariety scored 2, and Katie Heuing scored 2.
Mississinawa Valley went winless, finishing the season 0-23, but Venesky said the girls showed immense improvement from the beginning of the season until its end.
“If I look at the film from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, it was a vast improvement,” he said. “Unfortunately we were so far behind as far as fundamentals go and even basketball IQ. They got better, but they need to work in the offseason, and that’s probably going to be my biggest challenge.”
And with no seniors on the roster, the Blackhawks are set to return everyone next year as they look to continue to build their program.
“The future is bright as long as the girls want to continue to improve, but you’re not going to be able to improve if you’re not doing anything in the offseason,” Venesky said.