Tyler Goddard
Ohio.com correspondent

COPLEY:  Despite the attempts by Barberton, the Copley Indians kept control of the lead for virtually the entire game to earn its first victory of the season.

Led by a late run by sophomore center Megan Preston, the host Indians (1-0) defeated the Magic 62-51.

“You have to give Barberton credit,” said Copley coach Darryl Anderson Sr. said.  “They kept making runs and runs and just wouldn’t go away and didn’t quit.”

For much of the first half, particularly in the first quarter, both teams were poised to push the tempo and gain the early momentum. The Indians and Magics (0-3) traded shot-for-shot in the first quarter as Copley took the lead 9-7.  Copley didn’t waste any time building on its lead.  The Indians went on an 8-2 scoring run to begin the second quarter, which put them up 17-9, and they never looked back.

Barberton guards Katie Wright, who led all scorers with 19 points, and Harley Berlesky hit back-to-back 3-pointers cut the Copley lead to two points early in the third quarter. 

However, Preston countered with a 7-0 run herself to halt the Magics’ momentum and give Copley a 39-32 lead at the end of the third.

“They were able to seal over the top and get nice looks,” Barberton coach Kevin Pletcher Anderson said of Preston.  She is very talented, and if we can just take the ball and get it inside and work our offense, she is a tough match up.”

Anderson said “the sky is the limit” in reference to Preston who is only a sophomore but already playing at a high level. She finished the game with 10 points.  Senior forward Amy Smith also added 14 points for the Indians.

 Despite the run by Preston, the Magics made one more attempt to comeback to take the lead in the fourth quarter.  Sophomore guard Heather Sykes scored on a transition lay-up to close the gap to 47-43 with just three minutes to play. However, the Indians countered again by matching the Magics on almost each possession down the stretch to hold off the comeback attempt, despite 28 total turnovers.

“We made some key plays at opportune times,” Anderson said.

Pletcher said his team cannot hesitate on offense moving forward.

“When we get down, it makes it very hard for us to comeback because it means we aren’t taking care of the ball or missing box outs.

“We need to be able to take care of the ball and run an offense,” he said.  “That is the bottom line.”