NORTH CANTON: Talent, depth, experience. North Canton Hoover’s girls basketball team has all those attributes in abundance.
And don’t forget the defense. Lake certainly won’t. For the second time this season, the Blue Streaks saw more of it than they could handle Saturday afternoon.
Hoover (12-1, 8-0) turned up the pressure in the backcourt, forced 25 turnovers and cruised to a 67-49 victory over visiting Lake to remain unbeaten in Federal League play.
The Vikings, who are defending league champs, held Lake (8-3, 3-3) to eight points in each of the first two quarters to grab a 31-16 halftime lead. Then 13 points in a row during the third quarter opened up a 46-18 advantage for Hoover, ranked fifth in the first Division I state poll of the season.
“We really focus on our defense,” said senior Kaylee Stroemple, one of Hoover’s three 6-foot post players. “We talk about pressuring the ball and being the aggressors out there and I think we definitely did that today. We try to put them back on their heels a little bit to try and adjust to that kind of play.”
Kelsey Lensman, a 5-7 senior, led the Vikings with 14 points and Stroemple scored 13 — 11 in the second half — to pace a balanced attack. Julie Worley, another 6-0 senior, had eight points and a game-high seven rebounds.
“That’s one of the things I’ve been really proud of our girls about is they’re very selfless with the ball,” Hoover coach Abbey Allerding said. “They make the extra pass to their teammates. That’s a great thing to see as a coach.”
Hoover’s Marquia Turner, a 5-8 senior point guard, added eight points, seven assists and four rebounds.
“We’ve practiced defense a lot,” Turner said. “And it’s our responsibility — the guards, that is — to take pressure off our posts. It’s our job to do that and we take pride in it.”
Hoover also got six points apiece from three players — seniors Allie Farina and Kaitlyn Runner and sophomore Lexi Manos, with the latter contributing five steals.
“Everybody on our team is a threat,” Turner said. “Our scoring is very even. It goes across the board. Everybody has the green light. There’s no star player. We are all one.”
Lake got significant production from three players. Baylen Dyrlund, a 5-10 senior forward, had all eight of her team’s points in the first quarter but didn’t score again until late in the game, finishing with 11.
Lake senior point guard Andrea Maag scored a game-high 19 points, making 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Senior Baylee Hymes added 12, hitting four 3-pointers.
Hoover also beat Lake 61-40 on the road Dec. 7. And the Vikings ended the Blue Streaks’ season last year, 39-36 in the district finals.
“Their defense is tremendous,” Lake coach Henry Cobb said. “They have nine great players on their team. Abbey does a good job. We’re disappointed that we lost today but I thought the fourth quarter our kids pulled up their pants a little bit and we battled and made it respectable.”
Maag and Hymes combined for 13 points in the fourth as a 15-6 run pulled Lake to within 57-41 with 2:58 left.
But a Stroemple bucket and two free throws by Manos put Hoover back up by 20.