High school girls basketball: Stow shines on both ends in 61-40 win over Jackson
JACKSON TWP. — Stow-Munroe Falls' place among Northeast Ohio girls basketball's elite is solid, but many of the Bulldogs' recent stumbling blocks have come from Stark County.
GlenOak eliminated the Bulldogs in a Division I regional semifinal last year and, in November, McKinley accounted for one of Stow's two losses this season.
Earlier this decade, Jackson also proved vexing for the Bulldogs, though Stow had won the previous two meetings by more than 20 points.
On a snowy Wednesday night in Jackson, any thoughts of a Stark County curse for the Bulldogs were banished.
Stow played a solid game on both ends of the court, limiting the Polar Bears' chances and running away with a 61-40 win at Jackson on its Senior Night.
Stow coach Bob Podges said the Bulldogs (17-2) seemed locked in just ahead of the tournament.
"That's about our fourth or fifth straight game that we've played very well on offense," Podges said. "I think we did an excellent job, especially on the defensive end."
Both of Stow's primary scorers clicked against Jackson. Senior Lilee Carlson led all scorers with 16 points, and junior forward Kristin Chmielewski put up 14 points and five rebounds.
Podges said when Carlson and Chmielewski are one, his team doesn't lose.
"The other night they had 50 points together," Podges said. "Kristin guarded their best player [Emma Dretke]. She did a great job. We wanted to just wall up on her."
After the Polar Bears (10-9) lost for the sixth time in their past eight games, Jackson coach Anthony Butch could do little but tip his hat.
"That's a pretty good team," Butch said of Stow. "They're well coached and play hard. They were able to impose their will on us, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
"We've been hit by the injury bug, but I think we're starting to come together. The playoffs start next week and everyone is 0-0 then."
With Jackson honoring seniors Alayna McMullin, Ava Scroggs, Katy Skatun, Kylie Hawke and Emma DeAngelis, the game began with some comedy and sportsmanship.
The funny part came when the 5-foor-3 Skatun stood in the center circle to contest the tip against Chmielewski, who is 6-foot. Chmielewski easily tapped the ball to Carlson for a runaway layup.
The Stow defense then stood down and allowed DeAngelis to score on uncontested layup. DeAngelis had been unable to play most of the season due to a knee injury and got an ovation as she left the court.
Once the competitive phase of the game began, Chmielewski got hot, putting up eight points in the first quarter alone.
However, Podges was not happy with his squad after Jackson's Ava Scroggs nailed two 3-pointers. He called a timeout and let his team have it.
"It was pretty animated," Podges said. "I told them that was not the way we were supposed to guard their 3-point shooters."
"We [were] just over-helping on defense," Carlson said. "He wanted us to play straight up."
Jackson only made two 3-pointers after the first quarter. Stow made six 3-pointers in the game.
Stow's lead was 14-12 after one quarter, but the Bulldogs started to pull away, as they got contributions from all over.
With Jackson shifting its focus to Chmielewski, Carlson got hot in the second quarter, scoring seven points.
If not for a banked-in 3-pointer by Dretke at the halftime buzzer, Stow would have led by double digits. Dretke led the Polar Bears with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Behind 29-21 at halftime, things only got worse for the Polar Bears in the second half.
Stow then got a third scoring option going, as point guard Ellie McCoy made three from deep in the third quarter on her way to an 11-point night.
"Ellie has been the consummate point guard for us over the last two years," Podges said. "She knows how to get involved in the offense, and tonight she did it."
When McCoy made a 3-pointer to make it 46-27, Butch called timeout, but there was little Jackson could do to get back into it.
Stow forced 13 turnovers and disrupted Jackson's offense all night long.
Ahead 47-31 after three quarters, Stow was in cruise control in the fourth. The final 21-point margin equaled Stow's largest of the night.
The Bulldogs are moving at frantic pace to end the season, playing five games in eight days.
That stretch includes the Bulldogs' tournament opener Saturday at home against Kent Roosevelt and a make-up game Monday against Hudson.
Stow needs to win the Hudson game to claim a share of the Suburban League National Conference title with Nordonia and Wadsworth.