Linsly garners first conference crown

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Linsly School has more Ohio Valley Athletic Conference titles than any of the other 49 members.

However, Saturday morning at Ohio University Eastern it added a piece of hardware – the 190th overall – to the illustrious Leatherwood Campus trophy case that hadn’t existed in the history.

The Lady Cadets notched their first conference championship in girls’ basketball, knocking off the recent kingpin of Class 3A, Fort Frye, 47-41, in double overtime.

“We talked on the way up here about making history,” said Linsly head coach Erica Hall. “This is a great feeling and our girls deserve this.”

The win is Linsly’s 19th consecutive victory since opening the season with a loss at Steubenville.

“From the first game, we knew we had a lot of room for improvement,” Hall said. “We’ve seen the improvement.”

The improvement wasn’t necessarily visible in the game’s first six minutes. Linsly was struggling to find an offensive rhythm and Fort Frye had shot out to a 9-0 lead.

“We told our kids that basketball is a game of runs and you have to handle the ups and downs,” Hall said.

After the opening two runs, the game was totally back-and-forth and included no fewer than 16 lead changes until heading to the first extra session knotted at 29.

Fort Frye took a three-point lead, but Vivian Allison answered with a triple of her own. Talented sophomore Morgan Brunner, who came up big time and time again in the first half, knotted and sent the game to the second OT with two more foul shots.

In the second overtime, Brunner took over. She scored seven of her team’s 11 points in the second OT and Linsly overcame a one-point deficit by scoring the game’s final seven.

Brunner finished the game with 22 points to lead all scorers.

“Morgan loves playing under the bright lights,” Hall said. “But, the great thing about our team is we have several players who can make plays.”

Fort Frye, which was seeking its eighth conference title, basically couldn’t get out of its own way. The Lady Cadets, who pride themselves on defense and taking care of the ball, were guilty of a totally uncharacteristic 20 turnovers.

“I am shocked by our turnovers,” Fort Frye head coach Dan Liedtke said. “We work every day on passing, dribbling and handling the ball. But, today, you wouldn’t think we worked on anything like that. There were so many times we didn’t get a shot off.”

Linsly employed a solid pressure defense much of the afternoon, but Liedtke didn’t believe that was the cause of his team’s issues.

“That press shouldn’t have bothered us,” Liedtke said. “We’ve faced much better presses than that. We played scared with the ball and anytime you do that, you don’t deserve to win.”

Brunner was complemented in the scoring column by Allison, who went for 16.

Fort Frye was paced by senior Brooke Borich. She finished with 14 points, while Liedtke’s daughters – Megan (10) and Makayla (12) – teamed for 22.