ALLIANCE: The Walsh Jesuit girls basketball team brought a full-court press to the gym Tuesday night that has made several teams crumble.
Canton McKinley did not.
Instead, the Bulldogs navigated through the Warriors resistance and earned a 68-53 victory in a Division I district semifinal at Alliance.
McKinley will play Stow in a district final at 7 p.m. Friday at Alliance.
“This was the first time in a long time that we have seen full court pressure like that,” McKinley coach Pam Davis said. “We tried to practice against that and luckily we were able to get some good looks and some transition buckets.”
Senior Korrin Taylor, a 5-foot-5 guard, led McKinley (20-5) with 18 points and four rebounds. Junior Tazhia Petitt contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for the Bulldogs and senior Ronn’Yeil Hogan had 11 points and six assists.
“Our team defense, offensive rebounding and finishing our baskets were the difference tonight,” said Petitt, who is 5-10. “We watched film on them and worked on press breakers. We knew it was coming and we were able to handle it.”
Junior guard Anna Hall paced Walsh (18-6) with 21 points and five steals, but the Warriors were forced to play catch up most of the evening.
“You gotta give McKinley credit,” Walsh coach Pete Zaccari said. “They played a good game. They are very athletic and very quick. The ball wasn’t really bouncing our way tonight. The shots weren’t going in and when you get a little bit behind against a team like that, you gotta start pressing, but you play right into their game. Our girls gave it their all, but I gotta give McKinley credit. They were the better team today.”
McKinley led 11-10 and then gained separation each quarter, holding advantages of 33-25 at halftime and 44-33 after three quarters.
“I thought we started out the first four minutes kind of tight,” Davis said. “I think both teams did, but we started to show a little patience and poise and ran through some of our sets. We were able to get the ball down low to Tazhia where she had some nice base line moves in the first half. Korrin also used her versatility and hit some crucial free throws down the stretch for us.”
Junior Ty Newkirk had nine points, nine rebounds and three assists for McKinley. Junior Charday Pitts added seven points and 11 rebounds.
Senior Rachel Keough had 11 points and five rebounds for Walsh. Junior Lilli Piper finished with nine points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
“We just had to take control defensively and do what we do best.” Taylor said. “We had to stop the ball and stop their leading scorer, which is [Piper]. We held her to nine points. That is pretty good.
“McKinley is all about defense. If we play defense, we can win a championship.”
Walsh finishes its season as North Coast League Blue Division champions.
“This was a great season,” Zaccari said. “This team was a lot of fun to coach. We all enjoyed coming into the gym every day. This is a very close and tight knit group. They gave it their all. I wish we could have gone farther.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.