Alexander High School Lady Spartans cheer after a defensive play against the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes in Albany, Ohio, on Thursday, February 7, 2019. (Haldan Kirsch/WOUB)

Alexander Takes N-Y by Storm in Dominative Fourth Quarter

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With six minutes remaining in the first quarter of Nelsonville-York’s conference matchup at Alexander, sophomore Jocelyn Heller hit a 3-pointer that gave the Lady Buckeyes the lead. It was the first basket of the game, but senior guard Mary-Kate McCullough was so excited she belted out a scream at half court.

It seemed like a lot of emotion to carry for a basket so early in the game, yet in a contest where buckets were rare for both teams, each point mattered and came tough.

In a defensive struggle, Nelsonville-York (12-10, 7-5 TVC-Ohio) fell to Alexander (20-2, 10-2) 41-21 Thursday night in the Alley.

The Lady Buckeyes held the Lady Spartans to their second-lowest scoring total of the season, however they were unable to produce offense of their own. Alexander’s McKena Rice (10 points) made life difficult for freshman point guard Mackenzie Hurd (four points) and the Lady Spartans in whole made sure Joscelyn Heller (seven points) didn’t have good looks from 3-point range.

“Hats off to Alexander,” Nelsonville-York coach Bobby Cassady said. “They had great on-ball defense and made it really hard for our girls to get good shot selection”

It was a defensive chess match the entire game. Both teams crowded the paint and dared the other to shoot 3-pointers. When someone would drive, at least two bodies would be there to contest the shot. Nothing would fall for the Lady Buckeyes early as they ended the first half 1 of 11 from the field.

At halftime, both teams went into the locker room to strategize how they could crack each other’s defense as Alexander led 14-10.

Both offenses continued to struggle in the third quarter, but Alexander was able to widen its lead by speeding up the pace. Rice and Rachel Richardson pushed the tempo and found good shots to produce quick points while Nelsonville-York failed to score despite long possessions.

“They were able to get some transition points that we tried really hard to prevent,” Cassady said.

At the end of the third, Nelsonville-York trailed by eight but with shots falling to fall the deficit felt deeper.

Alexander finally put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Lady Buckeyes 19-7.  It was the way the Lady Spartans wanted to go out on senior night as they prepare for the playoffs. Nelsonville-York will look to get its offense back to its full potential before its playoff game Thursday, Feb. 14.