River View didn't exactly pull a fast one when it slowed down the game at Sutton Gymnasium Saturday night. In fact, Scott Cozzens and his MHS staff knew it was coming.
"This was a typical game for them," said the Marietta High girls' head basketball coach after the Lady Tigers (16-4) dropped a 46-31 decision to the Lady Black Bears in an East Central Ohio League contest. "It wasn't anything special they did for us. It's just kind of the way they play. They get a little lead, kind of milk the clock, take their time, go to the line, and beat you there."
"They're very, very deliberate with the ball," he continued, "and they play a great matchup zone."
Especially against Marietta standout Erica Dawson.
The River View (14-6, 11-3) defense limited Dawson to 13 points, about 17 below her average per game. She had two points at the end of the opening period and five at halftime.
After the break, Dawson added eight more to her final total.
Against visiting New Philadelphia on Dec. 29, 2011, she also scored 13 points, but the Lady Tigers won that game 55-46.
"She's not a secret," said River View head coach Kevin Smith, smiling. "We tried to focus on her and make sure we had two people close to her at all times.
"Then we wanted to box out on rebounds. That was a huge focus for us, and play very patient at the offensive end of the floor, so the game didn't get into the high possessions. That basically was the game plan to limit the amount of possessions Marietta had, because we knew that Marietta liked to play an uptempo game."
If the game had been uptempo, MHS might have stood a better chance. River View really had no one player on its roster who could run and stay with Dawson.
But then Marietta also had difficulty matching up with 6-foot Lady Bear sophomore Andi Daugherty. Daugherty, who finished with a game-high 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, was seemingly everywhere on the floor.
"She's so versatile," Smith said. "We put her anywhere we need to go.
"She can play inside and can handle the ball enough to be a guard. She's a great asset to us."
Daugherty's also a great foul shooter, converting 12 of 12 at the charity stripe in the game. Overall as a team, the Lady Bears made 21 of 26.
"We're averaging 70 percent for the season," Smith said.
"We are doing a very nice job at the free throw line."
During fourth-quarter action, Daugherty played with four fouls, and had to leave the game briefly with "back spasms," Smith said. When she returned to the court at the 3:43 mark, River View led 35-26.
"She can handle the ball," said Cozzens of Daugherty.
"She's a nice release valve there for them. I thought we did a decent job with her."
And, the Lady Tigers did so without the services of guards' Alexis Walsh and Lusia Barton, both out with injuries.
"We've got to learn how to play without the kids we lost," Cozzens said. "We've got a lot of work to do, but at least we've got a week to do it in before the (sectional) tournament comes."
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org