WADSWORTH — Given the recent history between Stow and Wadsworth girls basketball, it’s hard to expect anything but an instant classic when these two rivals meet.
On Tuesday at Wadsworth, Stow got off to a nearly perfect start at the Grizzly Den — but it was nearly all Wadsworth from that point on.
Behind 20-12 after one quarter, Wadsworth (3-0) shut down the Bulldogs (1-1) for the remainder of the game, running out to a 53-43 win.
“I thought at the beginning of the game, we were a bit too geeked up,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “Once we settled down, we did a good job of making the right basketball decision just about every time.”
There was no hint Stow was would suffer an off-night in the early going. The Bulldogs took advantage of some turnovers to take the lead late in the first.
“After the first quarter, we seemed to take it for granted and didn’t do what we need to do to play tough, smart basketball,“ Stow coach Bob Podges said. “I think it was combination of Wadsworth’s defense and our lack of willingness to be aggressive.”
Stow guard Emily Andrassy had a steal and a layup and made a 3-pointer to key a 12-3 run for the Bulldogs. Two free throws by Wadsworth’s E’Anna Won stopped the run, but Stow led 20-12 after on quarter. Andrassy finished with 14 points.
As Booth noted, however, “We gave up 20 points in the first quarter. I think we gave up 23 points after that.”
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 22-12 early the second quarter, but Wadsworth answered with an 11-0 run, keeping Stow scoreless for nearly six minutes.
A 3-pointer from Maggie Long gave Wadsworth its first lead at 23-22, but a 3-pointer from Stow’s Lilee Carlson ended the run.
Behind 25-23 at the half, Wadsworth opened the second half on an 11-2 run to take the lead for good. Senor center Kacie Evans was the dominant figure for the Grizzlies in the second half. She finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“She’s really the kid on our team that, when we need to make a play, we look to,” Booth said.
Evans said scoring was not her priority.
“My goal was to get a lot of rebounds tonight, especially because they’ve got a pair of six-footers” Evans said. “It’s very important for me to lead this team. I love these girls.”
Stow trailed 40-31 after three quarters, but tried to rally. A 3-pointer by Lexi Petit cut the lead to 44-41 with just under four minutes left.
Stow got no closer. The Grizzlies made their free throws down the stretch and were able to kill the clock. Wadsworth made 17-of-24 foul shots, compared to just 5-of-8 for Stow.
“When they drove, they were looking for contact, while when we drove we were looking to avoid contact,” Podges said.
Senior guard Kylee Batey led Wadsworth with 12 points. Stow got a game-high 15 points from sophomore guard Lilee Carlson. Wadsworth did a great job bottling up Stow forward Lizzy Stefanov, who finished with just two points.