The Marlington girls basketball team completed a season sweep of the Alliance Aviators Saturday afternoon in the Harry Fails Gymnasium in an Eastern Buckeye Conference contest.
The Dukes (13-2, 8-1 EBC) won 64-52, but the up-and-coming Aviators didn’t go down without a fight.
Marlington never trailed in the game, but Alliance kept it close until the final minutes.
Marlington built a 12-6 advantage after the opening frame.
However, Alliance (5-10, 1-7 EBC) won the second quarter by outscoring the Dukes 15-12 and cutting the Dukes' lead to just two points at halftime, 27-25.
In the second half, Marlington began to take control. The Dukes opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run. Junior Elizabeth Mason scored on a short jumper, junior Maria Warner picked off an Alliance pass and sophomore Chelsea Evanich hit a jumper from inside the paint. Marlington went on to outscore the Aviators 20-12 in the frame to lead by 10 points (47-37).
“The girls played well in the second half,” said Marlington assistant coach Kirk Miller, who was standing in for coach Mike Stadulis who was out with an illness. “They were a little sluggish in the first half, so I challenged them to play a better second half. They came out much more focused, picked up the pace and did what they needed to do. This is still a young team, and when you are playing on the road anything can happen. It is good that we are getting out here with a win.”
Miller also talked about how the young Aviator team is improving. Alliance started four sophomores and a junior.
“I didn’t expect them to lay down,” Miller said. “They hit a couple of 3s, and they played a pretty decent defense. Our girls needed to come out and play harder. That is what teams do that want to win championships.”
Evanich paced the Dukes with a game-high 23 points, while Warner followed with 18 points and junior Lexi Mill added 10. Junior Elizabeth Mason just missed double figures with nine points. Senior Kenna McElroy and freshman Ava Theiss each added a bucket.
The Aviators, who recently defeated Minerva for their first EBC win in seven years, were led by sophomore Jayla Callock with 21 points, while sophomore Mar’Zae Gantz added 13 and junior Mianna Ford 12.
Alliance coach Rod Smith said his players are working hard and staying in games.
“We did a good job in the first half,” Smith said. “Anytime Marlington made a run in the first half we made a run right back. I am very proud of the girls for doing that.”
Alliance is young with a lot of build on.
“That says a lot about the girls in the program,” Smith said. “We are still very young; we have one junior and the rest are sophomores or younger. For them to work hard and compete the way they did I’m very proud of them. The game got away from us in the second half with some costly turnovers and you can’t do that against a team like Marlington.”
This article originally appeared on The Alliance Review: Marlington defeats Alliance in EBC girls basketball