Union Local Jets land a win against Tusky Valley

GNADENHUTTEN, Ohio — Once, maybe twice out of ten, is how many times Union Local head coach Lou “Scooter” Tolzda figured his Jets might be able to take down No. 2 seeded Tuscarawas Valley.

Fortunately for those Jets, Wednesday night at Indian Valley happened to be just such a night.

Union Local received contributions from across its lineup in clutch situations as the Jets held on for a 49-48 win in an Division III district semifinal against the Trojans (20-4).

The win pits UL against Fort Frye for a trip to the regional round. The Cadets defeated Bellaire 43-27 to advance to a rematch of the 2023 district finale.

“I can’t say enough about the effort of our girls against a really good team,” Tolzda said as his team improved to 19-6 with the win. “It was just a courageous effort. I said going in that if we played them 10 times, we’d probably beat them once or twice. (Wednesday) was our once.”

Lauren Miller led the way with 13 points, but it wasn’t Miller late who knocked down the big shots. It was a pair of sophomores in Delaney Butler and Myah Martin.

Martin, in particular, came up clutch, hitting a pair of fourth-quarter triples as UL needed to dig itself out of a four-point hole at 45-41.

Something needed done. After trailing 41-34 after three, the Trojans set off on a 11-0 run to start the final quarter, their pressure finally starting to force turnovers.

Leah Bourquin and Elli Wallick also got hot at the right time, scoring four and six points, respectively, in the final quarter.

There were two problems that ultimately did in Tusky, however.

One, in a one-point game, the six missed free throws by Trojans’ shooters certainly hurt. The other? Whenever TV made a run and appeared poised to take command, UL would get loose for a big shot on the perimeter.

The Jets finished with nine three pointers, with Martin and senior Ella Pietranton each hitting three.

“We did such a good job of fighting back, but they did a nice job handling our pressure and they hit the dagger every single time we let them out of a situation,” a dejected Tuscarawas Valley head coach Matthew Ward lamented. “They made us pay over and over. We made some adjustments and thought we did what we needed to do, but give them credit.

“They hit some clutch shots when they needed to.”

Miller had two, two-shot trips to the lane light for UL, the last coming with four seconds left. Each time, the senior guard hit one of two attempts.

The last gave Tusky a glimmer of hope with four ticks remaining. The Trojans in-bounded the ball and called timeout after pushing the ball up the floor.

The officials agreed that 0.9 seconds remained on the clock instead of the original 0.5 showing, enough for one last desperation heave.

Locie Levengood threw a pass to Kaleigh Norris in the corner, where the 5-foot-9 Norris had to let loose an off-balance 3-point attempt as the 6-foot Laken Vinskovich came rushing out to contest.

The shot fell short of the rim, sending the Union Local faithful into a frenzy.

The celebration won’t last long. Tolzda and company know what is waiting once the sun rises, a rematch with the always dangerous Fort Frye Cadets. The two teams met in a mutual season opener back in November, with Fort Frye earning a 37-28 victory in Beverly.

“We know they are good and we know what we’re getting into,” Tolzda said. “It’ll be a rematch from last year. It won’t be easy. This one wasn’t easy.”

Bourquin led all scorers with 17 for the Trojans, backed by 13 from Norris. Pietranton, Martin, and Butler all totaled nine for the Jets.


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