In its opening game of the season, Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball made a statement by marching into Wadsworth's gym and marching out with a 53-35 win over the defending Division I state champion.
Stow had to expect a motivated bunch of Grizzlies when Wadsworth came to the James G. Tyree Gymnasium Jan. 18.
The game wasn't pretty from either squad, but Stow coach Bob Podges does not care about aesthetics -- especially after his team swept the season series from the Grizzlies.
Stow played perhaps its best defensive game of the season, limiting Wadsworth to 4-of-39 shooting from the field on its way to a 33-18 win.
The week began for Stow with a much different contest, as the Bulldogs took on Geneva as part of the Martin Luther King Showcase Jan. 15 at Euclid High School. The Eagles didn't put up much resistance as Stow won 56-30.
Stow's record stood at 11-2, 7-1 in the Suburban League National Conference as of press time.
"It wasn't pretty, but that's the kind of game we expect against Wadsworth," Podges said. "We didn't shoot the ball as well as we usually do tonight, but some of that is Wadsworth's defense. They pressure the ball well. I think we did a better job keeping our composure down the stretch."
Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said Stow simply outplayed his team.
"They beat us in every aspect of the game," Booth said. "They wanted it more and they executed better than us, top to bottom. We had two losses in the league coming into this game, so this has got to be the game of the year for us. I did not see any evidence that it was."
Stow opened the game on a 9-2 run, as guard Emily Andrassy made several steals and drove to the basket. Andrassy scored eight of her game-high nine points in the first quarter. She also had eight rebounds.
After Booth called time out, neither team seemed to be able to hit shots. Stow led 13-5 after one quarter.
The game was an extremely physical affair on both sides. Podges lauded his team for keeping its composure in the face of a very aggressive Grizzly defense.
"As I told the girls, the person that lost their composure the most tonight was me," Podges said, with a smile.
Podges noted point guard Lexi Petit was made for grinding games like this. While Petit scored only five points, she was composed in the face of the Grizzlies and was a constant nuisance on defense.
"Lexi was phenomenal tonight," Podges said. "She handled their pressure very well. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that Lexi, Emily and Lizzy [Stefanov] are only sophomores."
"They played very good man-to-man defense," Booth said. "It's what Bob Podges does. I have a lot of respect for him. It's not like we didn't know what to expect, but we sure acted like it.
"We shot 4-of-39 from the field and most of those shots were doomed from the moment they left our hands, thanks to their defense," Booth added.
Up 18-11 at halftime, Stow spent much of the second half running its motion offense. This kept the clock on Stow's side and sapped the energy out of Wadsworth's defense.
"We went to that because we knew we weren't going to score a lot of points tonight," Podges said.
Wadsworth never got the lead below seven points in the second half. The Grizzlies managed just one field goal in each of the four quarters.
Stow got eight points and three rebounds from Theresa Parr and seven points and six rebounds from forward Lauren Turschak. Andrassy and Petit combined for 11 steals and numerous held balls.
Wadsworth forward Peyton Banks led the Grizzlies with seven points and 13 rebounds, but no other Grizzly scored more than four points.
In the Geneva game, Stow's offense had no problems getting going.
The Bulldogs led the Eagles 25-7 after one quarter and 37-11 at halftime, as Podges emptied his bench for much of the second half.
Andrassy led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Stefanov had 12. Parr and Turschak added 10 points each.
Stow was set to host Nordonia Jan. 21, but results were not available at press time.
Podges said his team was in a critical stretch of the season, as the Bulldogs were set to travel to Twinsburg Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
"The Twinsburg game is going to be just like this one," Podges said. "They're going to pressure us and we have to be ready for it."