NEWARK – A lot of the faces have changed, but a couple of constants remain for Granville Christian Academy’s girls: Pressure defense, and Abi Rose.
The Lions’ lone senior was seemingly everywhere in the Fifth Street Gym on Friday, scoring 11 points, coming up with 10 steals and dishing off four assists as GCA opened the season with a 38-27 win against visiting Northridge.
GCA forced the young Vikings into 18 first-half turnovers and 25 for the game. Rose had six steals in the second quarter alone, as the Lions eased into a 16-7 halftime lead, then finally got the offense going in the third quarter.
“I played with Haleigh (Hartshorn) since the fourth grade, and most of these girls, I’ve only known two or three years,” Rose said. “But they’re going to be really good. We still have some speed. We all cooperate, and they listen to me.”
“Abi has such quick hands,” said sophomore Payton Hartshorn, who added four steals. “A lot of us aren’t as quick, but we still bring a lot of pressure. On offense, we’re not very big, but we’re physical and Abi gets us the ball in the right places.We just need to work on our shooting.”
Northridge had trouble getting into its offense with all the turnovers, and made just 2-of-17 first-half shots.
“Our point guard and backup point guard are both freshmen,” Vikings’ first-year coach Chad Scott said. “Credit Granville Christian for a good game plan with the pressure. When we did get it downcourt, we were okay, but we couldn’t see the forest through the trees. We got into too big of a hole.”
The Lions got sophomore post Andi English involved in the third-quarter offense as they started to pull away. She had seven points and also assisted Leah Benvie on a basket after a steal. Hartshorn hit a 3-pointer as GCA took a commanding 34-18 lead into the fourth quarter. English finished with 11 points.
The Vikings held a commanding 33-18 margin on the backboards, with junior Hallie Martin leading the way with 10 while freshman sister Kendra added seven. But Northridge shot just 27 percent from the field. Sophomore Phalen Huhn had four steals.
GCA won going away despite hitting only 33 percent from the floor and making 9-of-19 free throws. However, the Lions committed only 13 turnovers.
“We have to make layups, and work on our rebounding,” coach Forest Rose said. “Our motif is still going to be relying on fundamentals to get in good position, and to pressure the ball. We typically hold teams to 10-12 points below their average.
“That’s the best Northridge team we’ve seen in the last four years. They’re better conditioned and better organized.”
The Lions return to action Saturday, hosting new opponent West Muskingum at 7 p.m. in the Fifth Street Gym.
Northridge 4-3-11-9 — 27
Granville Christian 6-10-18-4 — 38
Northridge: 9-33 FG, 8-14 FT,1 3pt. (McCament), 33 rebounds (H. Martin 10, K. Martin 7), 25 turnovers, 2 Assists, Steals 9 (Huhn 4). Scoring: Humes 2 0-0 4; Liggett 0 0-2 0, K. Martin 1 3-4 5, H. Martin 1 0-0 2, McCament 1 0-0 3, Huhn 1 1-2 3, Swickard 1 3-4 5, DeNune 2 1-2 5.
Granville Christian:14-42 FG, 9-19 FT, 1 3pt. (Hartshorn) 18 rebounds (Hartshorn 4, Muth 4), 13 turnovers, 6 Assists (Rose 4), Steals 22 (Rose 10, Hartshorn 4). Scoring: Rose 5 1-2 11; Hartshorn 2 2-2 7, Abi English 1 0-0 2, Andi English 4 3-8 11, Muth 1 3-4 5, Benvie 1 0-0 2.