Prep girls basketball: Marietta girls beat Redskins

With All-Ohio senior Erica Dawson sidelined with a hand injury, Marietta High head girls’ basketball coach Scott Cozzens and his team have been seeking a re-definition of its identity.

If Saturday afternoon is any indication, that identity may well be that of a team that plays relentless defense combined with a balanced offense, and a lot of depth to remain a force in the East Central Ohio League.

The Lady Tigers forced 32 turnovers, won the battle of the boards by a healthy 34-22 margin, and saw 11 different girls score at least two points en route to a dominating 61-27 victory over the Coshocton Lady Redskins in an East Central Ohio League battle at Sutton Gymnasium.

“I thought our girls played one of their better games of the year today,” said Cozzens. “I thought the ball movement was good and our defense is getting to where it should be.”

The Tigers came right out in a full court press and it was obvious from the beginning that the Lady Redskins were going to struggle against such pressure.

MHS forced 13 first quarter turnovers and limited the Skins to just four field goal attempts in the first eight minutes.

Both Taylor Smith of Marietta and Coshocton’s Julia Kittell converted on one-of-two free throws to open the scoring before the Tigers went on a 16-0 run.

Lain Weppler and Alexis Walsh scored four points apiece to spark the early MHS run as the Tigers held an 18-3 lead after the first quarter of play.

Smith opened the second quarter for the Tigers with a inside basket on a nice assist from Kristin Hill before Kittell drilled a triple for Coshocton to cut the lead to 20-6.

The Tigers put together their second huge run of the half, this one a 12-0 run capped by back-to-back three balls by Weppler and Walsh to increase the lead to 32-6.

Kasey Means closed out the opening half with a triple for the Lady Redskins and the Tigers went to the intermission with a comfortable 32-9 lead.

Coshocton scored the first four points of the second half but once again MHS answered with an 11-0 run finished off by three- point bombs from Walsh and Weppler.

Walsh, who has been seeing her playing time increase of late with her continued improvement from knee surgery, and the injury to Dawson, came off of the bench to provide the Tigers with some huge minutes.

“When we really want to turn the intensity level up, we bring Lexi (Walsh) into the game,” said Cozzens of Walsh, who provided three assists, four rebounds and four steals off of the bench. “She comes in and gives us energy and she knows her role as well as anybody on the team.”

With the huge lead, Cozzens was afforded the opportunity to give everyone on his bench ample playing time and several of the Lady Tigers appeared eager to pounce on the opportunity.

“We have a lot of kids that can play and play well, people just didn’t know about them because we just had a pretty good No. 1 option in Erica (Dawson)” said Cozzens.

Twelve different girls grabbed at least one rebound in the game and nine different Lady Tigers were credited with an assist.

Weppler paced MHS in scoring for the third straight game with 13 points, while Walsh, Starr Johnson and Smith chipped in with 10, nine, and eight points respectively.

Means reached double figures for Coshocton with 10. The Lady Tigers improved to 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the ECOL with the victory, while Coshocton slipped to 2-13 and 1-7 in conference play.

Next up the Lady Tigers are scheduled to face quite a challenge today at 11:45 a.m. when they travel to West Muskingum High School in Zanesville to take on a very tough Lewis Center Olentangy Orange team in the Route 40 Classic.