BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — Owego improved to 10-0 with a 65-46 STAC Metro victory over M-E here Friday. It was a tough 10th as the Spartan defense made the Indians earn the “W,” but when they needed the points, they turned to their “go-to” gal.
Kaci Donovan scored both of her third-quarter baskets during a late 10-0 run that helped Owego create some space, then scored 12 of her game-high 31 in the fourth.
“They’re excellent defensively,” Owego head coach McEvoy said. “They had a great defensive scheme tonight against how we want to execute offensively, they did a great job trying to take away our three big scorers, forcing some other girls to step up and make some plays.
“Basically, same types of things we saw in our Syracuse tournament, actually. Schools up there attempted to do that to us as well too. And to see that and still be able to score where we were tonight, it was good to be able to grind out some points that way.”
Anna Felice and Evee Coleman played key roles on the scoreboard in the second half as well. Coleman scored eight of her 16 points and Felice connected for seven of her 13 after the break.
The Indians’ “key three” were helped out on the court by Ella Kopalek, Katie Shoen, Lauren Angelone and Zoe Mahon.
Owego was unable to shake M-F for the first two quarters and five minutes of the third period. On the few occasions the Indians would try to pull away, the Spartans kept reeling them back in. Owego went up by six in the first period and seven in the second, but were unable to create big space, and only led 30-24 at halftime.
The Indians looked like they would pull away coming out of the locker room as they quickly scored five points, including a 3-pointer by Felice, to build an 11-point advantage. However, M-E hit back-to-back keys, then added another basket to narrow the gap to 35-32.
“I would say their defensive scheme and the way the game was kind of progressing with the calls, and the flow of the game kind of threw things off early on,” McEvoy said. “We weren’t able to control the tempo of the game necessarily the way that we like to. They had that control early on and then halftime was a talk more about tempo, tempo, tempo to kind of beat that defense down the floor, get a couple easier looks so you don’t need to work, necessarily, as hard for some of those shots.”
Leading 37-34, the Indians’ offense would finally start to click and they closed out the third quarter with a 10-0 run. That spurt seemed to occur at the right time as Coleman, one of Owego’s “bigs,” went to the bench with her fourth foul with 2:14 left in the period.
Owego also had to contend with M-E’s standout, Ashlynn McKnight, at both ends of the court in a very physical battle that saw 43 fouls called. McKnight pumped out a team-high 22 points and created or came away with several turnovers at the other end.
“Ashlynn McKnight is outstanding,” McEvoy said. “I was lucky enough to coach her during the summer BCANY tournament; a hard-working girl, difficult to guard. She’s quick, has some really good offensive moves and she buckles down; that whole team buckles down defensively. They have no problem getting right up in everybody’ face and applying pressure, and they work really well together. Definitely a difficult challenge when you see that athleticism and that quickness.”
Despite M-E’s defensive prowess, the Indians' high-powered offense, which is averaging 65 points per game, still exceeded the 60-point mark for the seventh time. With the regular season at its halfway point, the coach sees areas where the team can improve heading toward the postseason.
“I think the past three games we’ve seen some things defensively that we need to clean up, rebounding as team, not necessarily relying on certain girls to rebound. And then, offensively, our player and ball movement needs to be a little bit better. I try to talk to the girls about our execution and our efficiency offensively. We want to go score quickly if we can, and if we can’t get that, then it’s about grinding out a good offensive possession. And sometimes, we don’t take necessarily the best shot that we need to take, so we’re working on those things.”
Owego (10-0, 6-0) hosts Elmira Notre Dame in a non-league game Wednesday.
IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Katie Shoen. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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