The Bulldogs held Polar Bear standout Taylor Mikesell to 19 points in the 50-46 victory.

GREEN  Minutes after clinching its biggest win since joining the Federal League three years ago, the Green High girls basketball team ran into the locker room and suddenly erupted in cheers.

The reason? School was canceled.

(But the win was pretty good, too.)

“Yeah, they’re more excited about school closing, but I’ll tell you what -- I haven’t seen that look on the girls’ faces since I’ve been here,” Bulldogs coach Tracy Miller said following a 50-46 win over visiting Jackson on Wednesday night. “We’re happy to get this win tonight.”

Sophomore Marissa Berlin scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Green, which held Jackson scoreless over the final 85 seconds. The game’s biggest shot came with 1:07 left, when junior guard Kelsie Glass made a 3-pointer in the right corner to give the Bulldogs a 48-46 lead. After a Jackson miss, senior forward Savanna Maynard hit two free throws with 21.5 seconds left to clinch it.

Green’s defense — which was terrific all night — forced the Polar Bears to use about 20 seconds before they could get off a final shot, which was off the mark anyway.

“We played really hard defense,” said the 6-foot-3 Berlin, who set the tone in the first quarter by scoring all eight of Green’s points and grabbing seven rebounds. “That’s the hardest we’ve probably ever (played) this season and we really moved the ball around (on offense). We were looking for open people as much as we possibly could.”

The Bulldogs also got a big defensive game from freshman point guard Sydnie Pearce, who spent all game shadowing Jackson’s best player, Maryland recruit Taylor Mikesell. Green ran a modified box-and-one, with Pearce getting help from another guard whenever Mikesell touched the ball.

“We said if we can hold her under 20 (points), we can win this game,” Miller said.

They did both. Mikesell scored 19 points — 10 below her average — on 6 of 13 shooting, with Green repeatedly forcing her to pass out of the double team. The rest of the Polar Bears couldn’t take advantage, combining to shoot 10 of 45 from the field.

“They did a great job swarming her the whole game,” Jackson coach Anthony Butch said of the defense on Mikesell. “They really made it tough for her to get shots off. They made shots and we didn’t make shots. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They’re a good team, a well-coached team and they did a nice job defensively.”

Added Green senior Jenna Trainer, “Obviously, there’s a lot of talk around her (Mikesell) — basically everyone in Ohio knows who she is. She was the key player and we practiced that box-and-one for four days straight.”

Trainer finished with 10 points for Green (9-2, 3-2), which also held a huge advantage (46-23) in rebounds.

Although the Bulldogs had fared well in out-of-conference games this season, the Federal League is a different animal, Trainer said.

“It’s honestly completely different,” she said. “I’m not dogging any (non-conference) teams — there are plenty of good teams — but going from McKinley to Jackson to Hoover to Perry to Lake (to GlenOak), you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ The intensity is so much higher.”

Sophomore Kerianne Diese scored 13 points with four assists for Jackson (8-3, 3-2). No other Polar Bear had more than five points.

“We’ve got to do a better job helping out around her (Mikesell),” said Butch, whose team is the only one in the Federal League to beat conference-favorite McKinley this season. “We need to get some confidence to knock down shots because I’m sure that’s not the last time we’re going to see that (defense).

“It’s the Federal League. It’s a great league, night in and night out. You can’t have any bad nights. If you do, anybody can beat anybody. That’s why it’s the best conference in the state for girls basketball.”


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