Stow girls basketball dominates season opener vs. Chardon

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Stow-Munroe Falls point guard Ellie McCoy drives past Hudson's Delaney DiGeronimo during a game last season.

STOW — Thanks to a COVD-19 quarantine, It took an extra eight days for Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball to get its season started.

When the Bulldogs finally got to play Chardon Nov. 28 at James G. Tyree Gymnasium, there may have been some pent up energy to be released.

"I think we played very well today, particularly because we only practiced one time in the last two weeks," Stow coach Bob Podges said.

If this is what an out-of-practice Stow team looks like, it's scary to think what the Bulldogs will be capable of once they're finely tuned.

Stow dominated from the opening tip, running away with a 75-37 win over the Hilltoppers in the season opener for both teams.

"We really shared the ball well," Podges said. "One of the fun things to watch about our team is how well we pass to get the easy shot."

On Nov. 30, Stow nearly rallied from an first-half deficit at Canton McKinley, but McKinley held on for 51-48 win.

The Bulldogs moved to 1-1 on the season.

Against Chardon, the Bulldogs' transition game was in mid-season form, as Stow beat the Hilltoppers down the court with impunity.

Senior guard Lilee Carlson was the primary beneficiary on the break, finishing with a game-high 24 points, eight rebounds and five steals.

"We just had so many opportunities on the break today," Carlson said. "We were able to turn them into good shots. There's going to be nights where the shots don't fall, but we know we can play this way."

"It's her time," Podges said of Carlson. "She's ready to shoot the ball and lead us."

Chardon coach Cullen Harris could do little but salute his opposition.

"I don't think we're going to play a better team this year," Harris said. "Stow is always so well-coached. They do all the little things right that we sometimes don't. We want to play this game now to see how far we have to go.

"We were flat tonight," Harris said. "There was too much stagnation on offense and too many one-on-nones the other way. They had a lot to do with that."

The Bulldogs opened the game on a 7-0 run and never let up. Carlson and forward Kristin Chmielewski were able to pound the ball down low, despite Chardon having a height advantage in the front court.

Chmielewski finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

"I think we understood they were a bigger team than us, but we went after the rebounds hard," Podges said. "it's great to see how our guards go after the ball."

Stow was ahead 21-7 after one quarter.

While the Bulldogs' pack line defense didn't completely shut down the Hilltopppers, the Bulldogs turned nearly every steal or blocked shot into points. Chardon finished with 22 turnovers.

Point guard Ellie McCoy kept the Bulldogs in high gear, throwing transition passes ahead every chance she got. McCoy also finished with six points.

"Ellie is the consummate Stow point guard," Podges said. "She understands her role for us perfectly."

Stow led 40-14 at the half, but kept the pressure on, despite liberally substituting throughout the game.

"We like to wear people down with our defense and then get out and run," Podges said. "We lull them to sleep a bit and then we hit them."

While the Bulldogs' returning starters all had solid games — forward Bella Adams had five points and five rebounds — Stow also got contributions from its newcomers.

In her first high school game, freshman Anna Hurst started at three guard for Stow and played backup point guard for long stretches. She finished with four points and four rebounds.

Junior forward Emily Ervin — who transferred to Stow from Ravenna — popped in 13 points off the bench for the Bulldogs.

"Emily is getting to understand our defense better," Podges said. "The more she does that, the more she's going to play."

Stow led by as many as 43 points early in the fourth quarter, despite Podges getting 16 of his players on the court.

Chardon was led by 11 points from guard Jo Janda, most of which came in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs held Chardon's top scorer Sue Liechty to just eight points.

Against McKinley, Stow was led by Carlson with 17 points, while Krista McDowell added nine.

Stow's scheduled Suburban League National Conference opener with Brecksville-Broadview Heights Dec. 2 was postponed due to the Bees just coming out of COVID quarantine.

Thus, Stow was scheduled to open National Conference place Dec. 5 at North Royalton.

The Bulldogs will have a big early-season test Dec. 9 when it hosts Wadsworth at 7 p.m.