Just what the doctor ordered.
Buckeye Local head coach Willie Luther couldn't have drawn up a better start for his 2010-11 Lady Panthers than what he got Monday evening on the home boards.
The Lady Panthers posted a 52-45 victory against Steubenville.
STEUBENVILLE’S Teryl Pendergrast blocks out Buckeye Local’s Shayla Czuchran as they watch a shot go toward the rim during Monday’s game in Connorville.
The season opener for both teams saw an initial adjustment period as the squads were measuring each other. Big Red was physical and tenacious. Buckeye Local presented a predominant size advantage inside.
"Our size is one of our strengths," Luther stated. "We hope to take advantage of it all year long. The girls we had playing today did an excellent job. We also have some injuries which has us missing another nearly six footer. The play today didn't look as if we were missing anybody.
Both teams were battling each posession, and it resulted in a close back-and-forth duel. At the end of the first quarter, the game was knotted 9-9. At half the scoreboard read 19 a piece. A one point lead for Big Red was the difference entering the fourth quarter.
"I have no problem with the effort and the way we played," Steubenville head coach Phil Casinelli continued. "Our offensive execution was not to the level I expected. We need to work on areas that need to get better. We were a little rusty coming in.
"Their big people underneath hurt us. We didn't get too many offensive rebounds. We need to do better on the offensive glass. We did not rebound the ball well. We need to get better at that, but obviously their size did hurt us."
It was in the fourth quarter the overall depth and size finally tilted the score in Buckeye Local's favor. The Panthers improved each period with a high of 19 points scored in the fourth quarter. The play of the 6 foot tall senior center Shayla Czuchran overwhelmed Big Red's front court tallying seven of the team's final 12 points.
Steubenville attempted to counter throughout the game by showing different looks, but it did not prove enough.
"We were trying to mix it up," Casinelli stated. "They were getting the ball inside a little too much. We ran into some foul trouble, and we are not as deep as you'd like. We only rotate about eight in. That forced us to play a little zone. They were successful with it a little bit. They made a run while in the zone. We just wanted to mix it up a bit."
Big Red was paced by the efforts of freshman Emily Masloski and senior Teryl Pendergrast. Masloski finished her first game on the varsity squad with an impressive 18 points. Pendergrast handled the ball throughout the evening and finished second on the team with 12 points.
Meanwhile, Buckeye Local is on track to achieve their goal of bettering theirprevious seven win campaigns over the past two seasons.
"All preseason long we focused on getting better each and every day," Luther commented. "Coming out here game one, we have seen the hard work we put in. It's definitely paid off.
"The girls getting a win builds their confidence. It's something to look forward to as we move along. We are trying to get over that seven game hump. The girls have a goal of trying to win double digits this year. This is definitely a good start to come out and beat a well coached team in Big Red."
Steubenville will again travel Thursday against Wheeling Park searching for their first win during a young season.
Buckeye Local's second contest is at home against Union Local Saturday.
STEUBENVILLE (0-1): Masloski 1 7-7 18, Pendergrast 3 6-8 12, Lawson 2 4-7 8, Stonebraker 1 1-2 3, Meyer 1 0-1 2, Purdue 1 0-3 1. TOTALS: 9 18-28 45. 3-pointers: Masloski 3. BUCKEYE LOCAL (1-0): Czuchran 5 7-9 17, Domyan 3 0-0 9, Lengyel 2 4-6 8, Moins 2 0-0 5, Smith 2 0-0 4, Bodnar 2 0-3 4, Omaits 1 1-2 3, Valuska 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 13 14-24 52. 3-pointers: Domyan 3, Moins 1