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Potters roll to fifth win

TORONTO — Toronto started to rush, while East Liverpool settled down.

The Red Knights built an lead, but the Potters caught fire and ended up pulling away as the East Liverpool girls’ basketball team defeated Toronto, 56-39, Wednesday night inside the George J. Kunzler Memorial Gymnasium.

The Red Knights led by seven in the first quarter, but the Potters regrouped and ran away from the hosts as the visitors led by as many as 22 points in the fourth.

“We kind of do that,” Toronto (4-5) head coach Rusty Hodgkiss said. “We play really well for seven minutes, and then we give up three or four baskets in the last minute and we did that tonight.”

Toronto led 8-1, but East Liverpool battled back and took an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. Once the Potters got the lead, they never gave it up to the Red Knights.

“The biggest thing was we regained our poise, and we were not turning the ball over,” East Liverpool (5-2) head coach Bryian Burson said. “As you could see, we had a big size advantage, and you saw that when we were not turning the ball over. When we stopped turning the ball over, we were able to run our sets. I think the big was our poise and us not turning the ball over.”

The Potters lead grew to 48-26 in the fourth.

“Once we were down 8-1, we calmed down, we settled down and we started to take care of the basketball,” Burson said. “We were down 8-1, but in the fourth quarter we were able to push our lead up to 20-something. We regained our poise, and we took care of the ball.”

Both teams applied pressure on defense.

“God bless them,” Hodgkiss said. “It help us. We want to get into transition. Defensively, they had that big girl and then they had that really big girl. With them down low, I knew we were going to struggle to score. I was happy to see them pressure us. We were able to get out into transition which is where we want to be.”

Maddie Anderson delivered a team-high 18 points to lead the way for Toronto. She was the only player to score in double digits for the Red Knights. Jensyn Jackson was second on the team with eight points.

Two players produced double digits for the Potters. Individually, Emma Ludwig tallied a double-double with game-highs in points (20) and rebounds (11), while Mikayla Reed collected 19 points.

After falling behind by seven, the Potters ripped off a 10-1 run to take a one-point advantage at the end of the first.

“It was more than what they were doing,” Burson said. “We expected them to press. Once we started to handle their press, we were able to get quality looks. When we did not handle their press, we turned the ball over and they were able to get quality looks.”

East Liverpool began to pull away in the second quarter as it scored Toronto, 18-8, in the quarter as the Potters extended their advantage to 29-18 at halftime.

“In the second quarter, we lost our minds,” Hodgkiss said. “We have a rule here where the ball has to touch the paint before we can shoot a 3. When the ball goes into the paint, you are able to collapse the defense, and you room and our in rhythm to shoot 3. Room and rhythm – I stole that from Coach (Don) Ogden. When you have room and our in rhythm, it is easier to shoot the 3. We shoot the 3 well when the ball touches the paint.

“We lost our minds, and we started firing up 3s. Jensyn Jackson is a real-good shooter. She can shoot the ball. In the second quarter, she started to rush her shot. She started to kind of catch the ball and shoot the ball in the same motion. We started to rush. We kind of felt the score was slipping away. We felt the game was slipping away. We hurried everything.”

It was more of the same in the third as East Liverpool outscored Toronto, 14-6, to take a 43-24 lead into the fourth.

“Our mindset is different this year,” Burson said. “We had a little bit of success the last few years. We have gained some momentum, and we have started believing we can beat and compete with people. We have that belief. We have been playing hard, and we have had success.”

The Red Knights and Potters are familiar with each other.

“We seem to play them every year,” Hodgkiss said. “It seems like the OVAC always put us together. Tonight, they did a lot of the same stuff they have done in the past. They are a good basketball team. Call it what it is. Coach Burson has done a super job. I think he was hired the same year I was. He has really built up that program. They competed with Indian Creek. He has done a nice job.”

East Liverpool outrebounded Toronto, 38-28, in the game. Riley Kinsey led the Red Knights with six rebounds. Ciara Peachey and Reed each pulled down eight rebounds to go along with Ludwig’s 11 rebounds.

The Potters committed 20 turnovers – nine coming in the first quarter – on the night, while the Red Knights committed 24 – 10 of which came in the first quarter.

Toronto has lost its last three games The Red Knights will look to get back to their winning ways Saturday.

Toronto’s busy stretch of its schedules concludes with a game Saturday before the Red Knights will have several days off before playing in the fifth annual Chuck Watt/John Nese Holiday Classic Dec. 27 at Big Red.

“I am real excited about having the chance to play down there,” Hodgkiss said. “I played against Coach Watt when he coached at Big Red. I still have a cassette tape of a radio call by John Nese of a game I played in. It is a thrill for me to be able to play in that.”

Before taking on home-standing Big Red at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 27 inside the Crimson Center, Toronto is scheduled to play Edison Saturday on the road as part of a girls’ and boys’ doubleheader.

The Red Knights are not looking past the Wildcats.

“Heaven’s no,” Hodgkiss said. “Edison has improved a lot. I met Coach (John) Visser for the first time when they came here and played last week. I am really impressed with the job he is doing at Edison.”

That game is currently scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

“It would be nice if the girls’ and boys’ game piggybacked each other,” Hodgkiss said. “It is nice when the girls and the boys can play back-to-back. It is nice to see the girls get a chance to play in front of a boys’ crowd. There was a nice crowd here tonight.”

Toronto defeated Edison, 56-41, last Thursday night at home.

The Potters have a long break as East Liverpool does not play again until Jan. 2 when it plays rival Beaver Local at home inside Potter Fieldhouse.

“I would rather play at least one game between now and then,” Burson said. “We will take the 15 days off, but I would rather to at least play one game between now and then.”

There was no JV game. As a result of injuries, Toronto’s JV season has been indefinitely suspended.

E. LIVERPOOL: 11-18-14-13–56

TORONTO: 10- 8-6-15–39

EAST LIVERPOOL (5-2): Peachey 3 1-1 7; Reed 9 0-0 19; Ferrazzano 0 1-2 1; Foster 2 1-3 5; Ludwig 8 4-6 20; Rogers 0 1-2 1; Flores 1 1-3 3. TOTALS: 22 9-17 56.

TORONTO (4-5): Cottrell 0 1-2 1; Beckwith 1 2-4 4; Liddick 0 0-0 0; Kinsey 0 0-0 0; Donnelly 0 0-0 0; Anderson 7 1-1 18; Jackson 3 0-0 8; Thomas 2 2-4 6. TOTALS: 14 6-11 39.

3-POINTERS: East Liverpool 1 (Reed); Toronto 5 (Anderson 3; Jackson 2). REBOUNDS: East Liverpool 38 (Ludwig 11); Toronto 28 (Kinsey 6). TURNOVERS: East Liverpool 20; Toronto 24.

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