A fast start created by tough defense paved the way for the Cardington girls to open their tournament run with a 78-49 win over visiting Liberty Union Friday night.
The Pirates scored 29 points in the first quarter and held a 13-0 lead three minutes into the contest thanks to their defense, which resulted in several transition baskets.
“That’s what we wrote on the board,” said Pirate coach Jamie Edwards. “We knew they’d come out with a triangle-and-two, but it doesn’t matter what defense they have when you get steals and transition baskets. Sage (Brannon) did a good job kicking it ahead. She was stat-stuffing which is what good players do.”
In taking that early lead, Cardington’s first four points came from Kyndall Spires. Kynlee Edwards then tallied two straight scores off Pirate steals and then added a three-pointer. Paige Clinger added a basket after another steal.
Cardington added to their advantage throughout the quarter, getting two steals and scores, as well as another three-pointer from Edwards, four points from Hannah Wickline and a three-pointer from Alex Maceyko as they were able to hold a 29-10 lead after eight minutes of action.
“We were hot from three early,” said Jamie Edwards. “Kynlee got two and Maceyko came in and got one.”
Baskets by Casey Bertke, Clinger and Edwards helped increase Cardington’s lead to a 36-13 lead in the second quarter before a late-period slump allowed the Lions to close within 18 at the half at 41-23.
Liberty Union wouldn’t be able to take any momentum out of the half, though, as Cardington poured on the offense in the third quarter to effectively clinch the game. Bertke tallied nine points in the period, while Brannon and Spires both added four as the team increased their lead to a 66-37 margin.
For the game, a total of eight girls on Cardington’s team scored, with all getting at least three points and seven tallying five or more.
“A couple fans told me after the game we have such team players,” said Edwards. “It’s team play and that’s it. It was a good atmosphere. A packed house. We’re averaging 22 wins a year and filling the gym.”
After giving up an early three-pointer in the fourth quarter, Edwards, Bertke and Brannon all scored to give their team a 72-40 advantage in a game they would win by 29. Edwards noted that with most of the other highly-seeded teams in the Central District avoiding Africentric, his squad will have nothing but tough battles the rest of the way — starting with fifth-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in a district semifinal at Gahanna-Lincoln Tuesday.
“Just keep it rolling,” he said. “We play all good teams and that’s what we’re here for. We’ll see if we can make the district finals again. If we do, it’ll be my eighth straight year (going back to his previous job at Olentangy).”
Kynlee Edwards led the team with 23 points, hitting three three-pointers in the contest. Bertke added 17, while both Spires and Wickline had eight.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS