By Matt Dolyle
WESTFIELD TWP. — A second-half surge from Copley’s Meghan Preston and dry spell by the Cloverleaf girl’s basketball team left the Colts thirsty in their 53-48 Suburban League loss Saturday afternoon.
Preston, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, was given a warning early in the third quarter for rough play with Cloverleaf’s Jessica Lindemeyer while going up for a rebound. At that moment, Preston’s scoring hadn’t vamped up yet — she had only four points — but that soon changed.
Her dominance down low increased quickly, as the center finished with 15 second-half points. That, along with seven rebounds in the half (4 offensive), gave Copley a huge advantage in the paint.
Preston finished with nine rebounds.
“(Preston) was so strong in the middle. It seemed like time after time, she was able to get the ball in there and just attack the basket,” Colts coach John Carmigiano said. “We had a hard time finding her on the box-outs, so she was getting a lot of second chances. She had a really nice game tonight.”
The Colts switched between a 2-2-1 zone and a man-to-man defense throughout the entire game, searching for the right formula to make a stop. The changes were to no prevail, as three Copley players reached double-figures in the scoring department.
“We were just looking for any answers defensively,” Carmigiano said. “We didn’t do a good job in playing team defense tonight, so we were trying different things that might work.”
Preston showed her prowess the defensive side of the ball on late in the game. With 1:11 left, she did it all: blocking a shot, corralling the loose ball and scoring in transition to give the Indians a three-point lead.
This came after Cloverleaf’s Brittany Piper (10 points) hit a pair of 3-pointers and a baseline jumper to put the Colts up 48-47 with 1:40 to go.
“Brittany, she was never-say-die tonight,” Carmigiano said. “It was fun to see her out there, as a senior, hitting some shots for us. It was the reason that we still had a chance — a slight chance — to win at the end.”
Piper’s first 3-pointer ended a field-goal drought by the Colts that lasted from the 3:21 mark in the third to 3:24 left in the fourth. During that stretch, Cloverleaf was 5-of-6 from the line, which kept it within six points. Nonetheless, the lack of scoring hurt its chances.
Center Briona Burgos added eight points and seven rebounds, while Kendall Yuhas had 10 points.
“If you go that long without a bucket, it’s just going to be a long night and we had some opportunities,” Carmigiano said. “I thought a couple people stepped up. I thought Kendall Yuhas was tough in the middle … She was battling. We didn’t have enough people battling at the same time together.
“It’s just tough.”
The junior varsity game excited the crowd with a back-and-forth, swapping leads basketball game. Copley won a thriller in overtime, defeating the Colts 35-31.
Contact Matt Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.