CANTON — Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball prides itself on defense, but the Bulldogs have put up some fine offensive performances as well this winter.
Both phases of the game need to work at the regional level for a team to be successful. Thus, Stow chose an inopportune time Tuesday to have an off night on offense vs. Canton GlenOak.
Stow’s offense was as cold as it had been all season in the first half, as the Bulldogs put up just 11 first-half points.
The Bulldogs never recovered from that slow start, as GlenOak went on to a 45-33 win in a Division I regional semifinal game at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.
Stow finished the season at 22-3. GlenOak improved to 18-7 and advanced to face Eastlake North in the regional final Friday at the Civic Center.
Stow coach Bob Podges said many of his team’s struggles were self-inflicted.
"I thought GlenOak played really well, but I think we didn’t move the ball nearly as well as we have in recent games," Podges said. "They tended to want to do everything themselves instead of trusting the system."
"I’m not going to take anything away from GlenOak, but we didn’t anywhere close to our standards tonight."
"Our guards did a great job holding the ball against them," said GlenOak coach Paul Wackerly. "We answered them when they started to make a run at us. I thought our matchups really worked out well tonight.
Stow got off to a roaring start, thanks to senior forward Kira "Wrecker" Philpot. In fact, Philpot scored the first nine points of the game for the Bulldogs and got Stow out to a 9-3 lead.
Philpot literally had a big assignment, as she has to deal with the Eagles’ 6-foot-5 center Jordan Weir. Although Weir finished with 10 points and five blocked shots, Philpot outplayed her for much of the game.
The Baldwin Wallace recruit finished with a game-high for 19 points and 17 rebounds in her final game as a Bulldog. However, no other Stow player had more than five points.
"I just tried to be at 100 percent tonight and do everything that I could to win," Philpot said.
"Kira played really well tonight," Podges said. "She did a great job on offense, but that’s become expected."
After Philpot’s initial spurt, Stow went ice cold from the field. On the other hand, GlenOak would find its range thanks to the smallest player on the court.
Eagle sophomore Breezie Williams hit two 3-points and converted an old-school three-point play to key an 11-0 run for GlenOak to end the first quarter.
Williams finished with a team-high 18 points and did an excellent defensive job on Stow leading scorer Lilee Carlson, who finished with only five points on the night.
GlenOak eventually made it a 15-0 run, taking an 18-9 lead before Stow forward Bella Adams hits a layup off an inbounds play midway through the second quarter.
That bucket proved to be Stow’s lone points of the second quarter, however, as GlenOak took a 20-11 lead into the half.
The 11-point first half was Stow’s lowest of the season.
GlenOak led by as many as 16 points in the quarter, as Weir started to get some putback opportunities.
Stow guard Kristin Chmiliewski was able to get a couple layups in transition, but she finished with only four points on the night.
Trailing 33-20 after three quarters, Stow went into pressing and fouling mode early in the fourth quarter.
The move paid some dividends, as Philpot keyed a mini-run. A pair for Philpot free throws cut the lead to 38-29 with just under five minutes left in the game.
However, Williams answered with a layup and the Bulldogs would get no closer, as GlenOak effectively killed the game off with some nice posession work in the final three minutes.
Philpot and guard Ellie Petit will graduate this spring. While the Bulldogs lose a small class, Podges noted Philpot’s loss will be difficult to deal with.
"She’s the best post player that we’ve ever had," Podges said. "She’s had such a remarkable career with how much she has improved over her four years with us."
That said, Podges notes the Bulldogs should be capable of another run next season with four of its five starters and nearly all of its reserve players back next winter.
"One of things we had to learn after last year was how to deal with teams like a Aurora that have great players," Podges said. "We did that this year when we beat Aurora and Warren Harding,. This should be a stepping stone to having a good summer and getting back to work."