There would be no buzzer-beaters, no slingshot and no giant killing for the Green Bulldogs this time. Coach Tracy Miller’s squad fell short to another group of Bulldogs, losing 52-38 to Canton McKinley.
There would be no buzzer-beaters, no slingshot and no giant killing for the Green Bulldogs this time.
One year after shocking a high seed in the second round of the North Canton Division I sectional tournament at Walsh University’s Alumni Arena, coach Tracy Miller’s squad fell short to another group of Bulldogs, losing 52-38 to Canton McKinley.
Last year’s 49-48 triumph in the second round came against Lake, another Federal League power, but McKinley (17-5) was simply too big a mountain for Green to climb. McKinley jumped out to an early lead and elected to stall for large chunks of each of the last three quarters by playing the four-corners offense and holding the ball for as long as possible to run time off the clock.
“I think our defense sort of messed with them a little bit tonight,” Miller observed. “We played zone, a little bit of box-and-one, some man-to-man. I thought for a team that has their quickness to go spread offense with about seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, I think that’s a compliment to our defense.”
The strategy proved wise for McKinley as coach Pam Davis’ squad wasn’t efficient with the ball when it did attack. McKinley shot a shade better than Green, with both sides attempting 44 field goals and the higher seed converting 16 of its chances to Green’s 15, giving McKinley a shooting proficiency of 36.4 percent.
Both sides were sloppy with the ball at times as well, with Green (12-11) committing 27 turnovers to McKinley’s 23. Green fell behind on 3-point shooting and free throws. McKinley relied on its outside marksmanship and made 8-of-17 to stall out numerous Green rallies, while Green made just three triples.
It was a long night for Green senior point guard Erika Rector, who spent the game being hounded by a steady rotation of athletic defenders and guarding McKinley’s top player, junior guard Marquia Turner, at the other end.
“We’ve had Erika play the one, the two, the three for us. We knew tonight she was going to get pushed and bumped and held a lot, but Erika, she kept her composure, played her butt off tonight for us, and for a four-year letterwinner, for her to go out this way, I’m so proud of her,” Miller said.
Despite being the primary target of the McKinley defense, Rector was Green’s only player in double figures with 10, and added six rebounds, as Green grabbed a 35-34 edge on the glass.
In the early going, it appeared McKinley would run away from Green and hide. The Bulldogs scored the game’s first 10 points and held Green scoreless until the 4:24 mark of the first quarter, when sophomore guard Tara McCausland made a jumper to get her team on the board. Green turned the ball over six times during the same span, struggling under McKinley’s pressure defense.
Page 2 of 2 - “We knew their defense was going to pressure us for four quarters, obviously,” Miller said. “They stepped up the pressure a little bit in the second half and pressured our younger girls, but it was a good game. Our kids fought, fought, fought this team and here we are, barely .500 at 12-11.”
Slowly, Green found its way. Freshman forward Madison Jackson powered her way inside for back-to-back baskets, pumping her fist and exhorting her teammates after being fouled on the second make. Sophomore guard McKenzie Black capped the run with a deep 3-pointer, and when the 11-3 spurt was over, Green had pulled within two at 13-11. McKinley then built its lead back to 10 (29-19) in the second quarter and looked to break the game open before the half.
Instead, Green scored the final four points of the half and trailed by six at intermission.
The lowest the lead dipped for McKinley was five, at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter, but Davis’ squad used back-to-back turnovers followed by consecutive missed shots by Green to re-establish control and push their lead to as many as 18 in the fourth.
Returning to their four-corners, stalling approach for most of the final period, McKinley simply bled out the clock and left Green with insufficient time to mount one final charge.
Junior guard Korrin Taylor led McKinley with 14 points and Turner also reached double figure with 13.
As his team filed into the locker room with red eyes, a few tears being shed and disappointed expressions on their faces, Miller recognized how well they had competed against a talented team with a legitimate shot of winning a district championship.
“The second half our our whole season has been great for us. I was really pleased, and we’re so young, we’ve got three seniors and the rest freshmen and sophomores, so I was really proud of our girls tonight,” Miller said. “McKinley’s tough; they’re always tough. We’re in our second year together at Green, and we’re trying to build a program like McKinley or Hoover.”