Defense Powers Buckeye Local Panthers Past Beaver Local
CONNORVILLE — Defense has been a focal point since the preseason for the Buckeye Local Panthers.
Since switching to a 2-1-2 zone, Coach Tom Figurski has liked what he’s seen.
That includes Thursday night’s performance against Beaver Local in which Buckeye held the Beavers to a chilling 7 of 59 effort from the field, which equates to 12 percent.
That’s a recipe for success. And successful the Panthers were, posting a 51-24 victory. It was Buckeye’s second win in as many nights after it went to East Liverpool and prevailed on Wednesday. The Panthers are 7-4.
Taking it a step further, that’s especially impressive when you consider all of Buckeye Local’s athletics, including practices, were shutdown for several days because of last weekend’s weather.
“We need to practice because we need the work,” Figurski said. “If you had seen us at East Liverpool, you’d understand what not practicing for almost week can do. The girls came in, were ready to play and the effort was there. Hopefully, we’re able to continue to stack up some wins.”
While Buckeye Local’s defense was improved, the Beavers (6-6) played without their best player, Jenna Riccardo, who suffered an injury in Beaver’s loss to Indian Creek on Wednesday.
“We realize they were shorthanded, so it’ll probably be a different game when we go up there, but we’ve been working on adding defensive pressure,” Figurski said. “We’re not the best defensive team yet, but overall, I thought we played well. The defense is working for us a little bit better. The change in defense allowed us to dictate where they went to and forced them into some bad shots.”
Buckeye Local, which didn’t shoot lights out by any means, erased any doubt early as to the outcome. The Panthers grabbed a 20-12 lead after one and then proceeded to outscore Beaver, 13-5 in the second.
Fueling the early Panther onslaught was talented junior Emily Holzopfel. Closing in on becoming the school’s all-time leading female scorer, Holzopfel scored 25 points in the game. She had 22 of those in the game’s first 11 minutes. Included was a stretch in which she scored 14 consecutive points.
As Holzopfel filled it up early, Beaver Local continued to clang shot after shot. The Beavers didn’t record a point in the second quarter until there was just 2:10 to go in the half. Their drought continued in the third when they didn’t tally until there was 3:03 to play.
“In the first half, eight of their 17 points came from the foul line, so we knew if we stopped fouling, and forced them to shoot shots, we’d have an opportunity to slow them down even more,” Figurski said.
Holzopfel’s scoring was complemented by junior Alaire Destifanes. She went for 13 points. Maddie Gill turned in a solid effort, scoring nine points and collecting 13 rebounds.
Beaver Local failed to produce a double-figure scorer. Madison Cline led the way with eight.