MARION – Pleasant opened the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference girls basketball season with a 43-36 win over Marion Harding Friday afternoon.
The Spartans (2-0, 1-0) won the game despite hitting just 6 of 17 attempts from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“We are happy to get the win, but we are going to have to make more free throws down the stretch,” Pleasant coach Nate Dendinger said. “We managed to make some good defensive plays at the end and that carried us and we were able to get the win.”
Pleasant finished 16 of 31 from the foul line, while Harding was 13 of 23 at the stripe.
The win was tight as the Presidents (1-1, 0-1) continued the keep the pressure on their visitors for the entire 32 minutes.
“We never gave up,” Harding coach Evan Geyer said. “We played hard to the end. We wanted to close the gap down to four with a minute to go.”
Harding narrowed the Pleasant edge to 42-36 with 45 seconds to play and had possession of the ball, but could not get any closer.
“Give Harding credit, they forced us into some mistakes early and we would end up fouling. They then came down and scored and stayed right in the game early,” Dendinger said.
Geyer felt his team was strong early, but hit a stretch in the second quarter when the Spartans were able to pull away.
“We had a lapse from the middle of the second quarter into the third,” Geyer said.
The game was a draw after for the first 10 minutes of the contest before Pleasant broke away with a 9-0 spurt. Summer Blevins scored a free throw and a layup for the Spartans to the put the visitors into a 16-13 lead. Ashley James added a pair of foul shots and Blevins converted another field goal from close range. Leah Manaci tallied a pair of foul shots to put Pleasant out in front 22-13 with 3:10 to go before the intermission.
“We were able to get some shots off transition and that got us going,” Dendinger said.
Pleasant took a 26-18 edge into halftime. Blevins led all scorers with seven points in the first two quarters. Fallyn Stephens scored five to pace the Presidents.
Both teams scored seven points in the third period making it 33-25 headed into the fourth.
“We were down by eight at the start of the third and down by eight at the end of the third. We really didn’t make any progress,” Geyer said.
“We played much better in the fourth.”
Harding trimmed the Pleasant lead to five, 35-30, when Stephen scored off a rebound and then followed up with a foul shot moments later. The Spartans responded with a pair of free throws from Blevins and a basket from Karmen Linder to make it 39-30 with 4:42 to play.
The squads traded points until Harding made its final surge. Stephens scored a bucket with 58 seconds left and another with 45 seconds on the clock to leave Pleasant with a 42-36 lead.
Harding came up with a steal by Emily Needles, but Kia Brandstetter missed on a shot which went out of bounds off of Harding.
The Lady Spartans finished the scoring when Kamryn Kimmel made a free throw with 31 seconds to play.
“We knew we had to come out and play well on defense the entire game,” Geyer said. “They are a good team and we knew we could not try and let them get going. We played pretty well on defense most of the game.”
Blevins and Linder topped the Pleasant scoring chart with 11 points each. Blevins also had nine rebounds as the Spartans had a 39-31 edge off the glass.
Stephens tossed in 19 points to pace Harding and she also had seven rebounds.
The Spartans cashed in on 13 of 35 shots from the field and the Lady Presidents clicked on 11 of 47. Pleasant was guilty of 24 turnovers and Harding had 20.
Pleasant won 41-18 win in the JV game. The Spartans pushed out to a 24-12 halftime lead and rolled to the victory. Erika Linder had 15 points to lead Pleasant, while Mia Tinnerello scored seven for Harding.
Pleasant 10-16-7-10 — 43
Harding 10-8-7-11 — 36
Pleasant: Ashley James 1 2 4, Hannah Peltier 1 0 3, Summer Blevins 4 3 11, Ashley Anderson 2 0 4, Kamryn Kimmel 1 3 5, Leah Manaci 0 3 3, Karmen Linder 4 3 11, Jaden Mauk 0 2 2. Totals 13 16 43. 3 point goals: Peltier
Harding: Taylor McIntyre 1 0 2, Kia Branstetter 1 2 4, Taylor Foust 1 0 2, Emily Needles 2 0 4, Fallyn Stephens 6 6 19, Zion Jackson 0 4 4, Brittany Persinger 0 1 1. Totals 11 13 36 3 point goals: Stephens.