McKinley struggles with Gahanna Lincoln's height and loses to the Golden Lions 52-36 at Classic in the Country.
McKinley saw length like this on the basketball court before this season.
To the Bulldogs’ dismay, the result Saturday at Classic in the Country was no different than when they faced other talented, taller girls basketball teams.
Gahanna Lincoln used its height advantage to shut down McKinley 52-36 at the Perry Reese Center. The Golden Lions have five future NCAA Division I players in their lineup — including 6-foot-1 starters Maddison Blackwell, who committed to Xavier, and Zenobia Bess, who is heading to Illinois State.
McKinley starts 6-2 Charday Pitts, but the Bulldogs have no one else over 5-10 on their roster.
“Playing in the Federal League, we have height, but we don’t have that,” Bulldogs guard Marquia Turner said. “It was a hard adjustment.
“We never got to see them play much, so we weren’t really prepared. The coaches can tell you that they’re big, but it’s a whole different scenario when you get here and they’re trees compared to us.”
The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 10-3. Their previous two losses were to Hoover and four-time defending state champion Hathaway Brown, who also are appearing at Classic in the Country.
McKinley shot just 20 percent from the field in the first half and 29 percent on the night. Turner was the Bulldogs’ only double-figures scorer with 12 points.
“We probably gave up three to four inches at just about every position on the floor,” McKinley head coach Pam Davis said. “Their inside presence hurt us. We couldn’t really get anything going offensively.
“They’re very athletic. That’s why they have D I kids going somewhere and they were better than we were today.”
Lincoln broke a 13-13 tie by scoring 12 straight points. It looked as though the Golden Lions would shut out the Bulldogs over the final 5:49 in the first half. But Turner hit a 3 at the buzzer to cut McKinley’s deficit to 25-16 at the break.
The Bulldogs dominated the first five-plus minutes of the third quarter and cut Lincoln’s lead to 29-27 on a Pitts offensive rebound and basket.
“We were able to create a couple turnovers, and convert and score,” Davis said. “Our defense generates our offense and we were able to get into our pressure.”
The Bulldogs could not maintain their momentum. A 12-2 Golden Lions run followed and put them in command. Quiera Lampkins scored a game-high 18 points for Lincoln. Bess finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
The Bulldogs will try to gain at least one win at Classic in the Country on Monday at 1:30 p.m. when they face Regis Jesuit (Colo). Fairmont beat Regis Jesuit 43-35 Saturday.
Classic in the Country features some of the top girls basketball players in the country and the event is a new experience for many of the younger Bulldogs.
Page 2 of 2 - “This atmosphere is crazy,” Turner said. “We have some transfers who have never been down here, and it’s really hard to adjust to this.
“Monday, I think we’ll be prepared because we had a test game. I think we’ll be a lot better now that we got used to it.”