STOW — There was a new look to the Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball team in its season opener.
For one quarter, Stow’s new starting lineup looked to be just a bit off on the offensive end.
After that, however, things looked familiar to Stow fans.
Big second- and third-quarter scores, combined with Stow’s usual solid defense, allowed the Bulldogs to pull away to a 61-32 win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights Tuesday at the James G. Tyree Gymnasium. Stow improved to 1-0, while Brecksville dropped to 1-1.
Stow coach Bob Podges said his team played a solid game once it worked the nerves out of its system.
"We have a lot kids that have varsity experience, but not a lot of kids that have starting experience," Podge said. "That showed early on. Once we settled in, we did what we needed to do.
"Even the first quarter, I think we played well, especially on defense," he added. "We were getting good looks, they just weren’t going down."
Bees coach Greg Roderick could do little but tip his cap to Stow.
"That’s a very good basketball team," Roderick said. "They go places with a purpose. They play great defense. They’re always competitive."
Stow only trailed at the start of the game, as Bees junior Rosie Taylor opened the game with a 3-pointer. Taylor led the Bees with 10 points.
Neither team was able to get its offense going early, but Bulldog forward Bella Adams helped spark Stow into the lead.
Adams hit a transition layup with under 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter, giving Stow a 9-7 lead after one quarter. Adams finished with 10 points in her first varsity start.
The Bulldogs’ two returning starters helped Stow find its rhythm.
Senior center Kira "Wrecker" Philpot was a dominant figure on defense, as the Bees chose not to go into the paint for much of the game. However, Philpot showed a new wrinkle to her game when she hoisted up a 3-pointer early in the second quarter.
"She’s been making those in practice," Podges said. "I told her, ‘If you make those in practice, you better make them in a game.’"
Philpot missed the 3 — but then did what she’s known for, grabbing the rebound and putting the layup back in. Philpot finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
"She’s a real force for us down low," Podges said.
However, it was junior shooting guard Lilee Carlson who got the Bulldogs some breathing room.
With Brecksville trimming the lead to 13-12, Carlson hit a 3 to open a 14-2 run to end the first half. Carlson showed every part of her game, as she scored 13 of her game-high 23 points in the second quarter.
"Lilee is definitely one of our leaders," Podges said. "She’s waited her turn to take over this program."
"I think it was nerves that hit us early," Carlson said. "We’re kind of used to playing together now. I just kind of went for it in the second quarter."
Carlson beat the first-half buzzer with a coast-to-coast layup, giving Stow a 27-14 lead as it headed to halftime.
With the momentum in their favor, the Bulldogs roared out of the locker room with a 9-0 run, as Stow started to show off its transition game.
After a tentative start, point guard Ellie McCoy started making some pinpoint passes on the break, several of which led to uncontested layups. What’s more, McCoy hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, keying a 15-2 run in the middle of the third.
"She does that every day," Podges said of McCoy’s passing.
"She was extremely nervous the last few days," he added. "Being a Stow point guard takes a special person because you have to deal with me."
McCoy finished with 10 points and seven assists in her first varsity start.
Carlson beat the buzzer again at the end of the third quarter, giving Stow a 59-23 lead.
McCoy hit a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter to make it 61-23. The Bulldogs would not score again in the game as Stow’s shooting went cold as Podge emptied his bench.
Brecksville guard Elese Tichy scored eight points off the bench, but the Bees simply could not figure out Stow’s defense for the entire night.
Podges said he knew Stow was in for a much bigger challenge in its second game. The Bulldogs were set to take on Solon Saturday as part of the Holiday Hoopla event at Walsh University. Tip time is at 2:20 p.m.
Stow will travel to North Royalton Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO