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Lakers pull away in second half to down Spartans

Jan. 16—CONNEAUT — Pymatuning Valley changed up its press defense in the second half and it paid off in a 65-44 road win over the Conneaut Spartans in non-conference girls basketball action.

The Lakers forced a multitude of turnovers as the visitors outscored the Spartans 14-7 in the third quarter.

Junior guard Zoey Painter scored 27 points for PV, including shooting 9-for-11 from the line.

"I was driving the gaps and hoping to get on the line a lot," Painter said.

Senior Leah DeMoss had 10 points and junior Jolene Sharpe added nine points and nine rebounds for PV.

"We started off in that zone press which they were getting into the middle really well and then hitting opposite and they were scoring layups on us so I knew we had to change it up a little bit," Lakers coach Geena Gabriel said. "We went to that 1-3-1 and I think that definitely wreaked some havoc of taking away their middle and really pressing their guards."

Gabriel was pleased to get a win on the road against a county school.

"I knew coming into this game it wasn't going to be easy and they really played physical," she said. "I give them props they played a really good game."

PV took an early lead until Conneaut senior Finley Evans hit a 3-pointer to give the Spartans a 16-14 lead with 1:52 in the first quarter. A minute later, however, Sadie Paul made a three to give the Lakers a 17-16 lead and they never trailed again.

The Lakers took a 31-28 lead into the locker room. The Spartans scored the first two points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 31-30. But PV went on a 19-5 run during the third quarter and spanning into the fourth quarter to push the lead to 50-35 and put the game away.

The Lakers improved to 8-4, while Conneaut dropped to 4-8.

PV shot 23-for-60 (38.33%) from the field and made four 3-pointers, while Conneaut made 13 of 42 shots (30.95%) and converted five 3-pointers.

The Lakers shot 15-for-22 from the free-throw line, while the Spartans went 13 of 24 shots from the charity stripe. PV had a 31-18 rebounding advantage.

Junior Bella Fix and sophomore Alexis Kiser each scored 11 points for the Spartans.

Senior Kayla Farley added eight points and junior Addie Kennedy dished out six assists.

Conneaut coach Jayson Aponte said the Lakers outhustled the Spartans and were more aggressive.

"We didn't match their aggressiveness," Aponte said. "The first half we did, but the second half we missed a couple of layups where we could have taken the lead. The girls got down and they were being physical and instead of matching that, we took a backseat to that."

Conneaut also had some foul trouble in the second half, and had trouble stopping the Lakers guards, especially Painter.

"That's one of our problems this year, is we get into foul trouble with not aggressive fouls, but silly fouls," Aponte said. "Their two guards killed us and we had no answer. We tried to stop them but it didn't work. Once [Painter] started to get going there was no stopping them."

Next games

PV hosts Mathews on Thursday, while Conneaut plays St. John at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.