STOW — Having dealt with rival Wadsworth in its previous contest, the Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball team knew a win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights Wednesday would secure their third straight Suburban League National Conference title.
The Bulldogs earned their three-peat in style.
The shots fell early and the defense was constant for Stow as it closed its National Conference schedule with a 71-17 rout of Brecksville-Broadview Heights Wednesday at the James G. Tyree Gymnasium.
Stow won its 15th straight game and improved to 19-2, finishing at 13-1 in the National Conference. Stow shared the title with Wadsworth, who defeated Hudson 47-27 Wednesday.
“This was definitely something the seniors wanted,” said Stow forward Lizzy Stefanov. “I’m glad we came through and we weren’t disappointed.”
While the Bees were underdogs coming into the game, Brecksville took a hit before the varsity game started. Brecksville sophomore Elese Tichy left the court on a stretcher during the junior varsity game. Tichy dove for a loose ball out of bounds and suffered a head injury.
“It’s hard to maintain the focus when you see a player go down with a serious injury,” Stow coach Bob Podges said. “Obviously, we’re thinking about her. We just needed to refocus and understand that we’ve got to play a basketball game.”
Once the game starter, the three-pointers started falling for the Bulldogs. Stow’s first four baskets came from downtown, as guard Lilee Carlson had 11 of her 14 points in first quarter.
Brecksville had to know it was going to a long night when it in one possession, the ball got stuck between the backboard and the rim. After the possession arrow gave the Bees ball, another shot got stuck between the backboard and rim on the other side.
Stow had no such problems putting the ball through the net. The Bulldogs led 21-4 after one quarter and never looked back.
With lead secure, Podges spent most of the game allowing his reserve and JV player to get playing time alongside Stow’ starters.
“We wanted to make sure all the kids got some playing time together,” Podges said. “We’re going to need some of those players in the postseason.”
In part because of the lineup switching, all 11 varsity Bulldog players scored in the win.
“That’s outstanding,” Podges said. “We moved the ball really well tonight and that shows it.”
Up 34-12 at the half. Stow kept coming, as it opened the third quarter on a 13-0 run as Brecksville’s offense couldn’t maintain any continuity again the Bulldogs’ pressure defense.
With 49-17 lead after three quarters, Stow’s saved its best defensive effort for last. The Bulldogs outscored the Bees 22-0 in the fourth quarter, as Stow’s defense was relentless regardless of who was on the court.
Stow forced the Bees into 25 turnovers on the night and had 14 steals.
Stefanov led the Bulldogs with 20 points and six rebounds, while guard Emily Andrassy added 11 points and five steals. No Bresksville player had more than five points on the night.
Stow will close out the regular season by hosting Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs will open the postseason Feb. 21 at home against the winner of the Walsh Jesuit-Boardman game. Tip off is set for 7 p.m
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC