Every quarter of a basketball game is important. The key is to play hard through each and every one of them — all 32 minutes.
Conneaut Valley found that out the hard way during its championship game with Linesville back on Dec. 10 at the Mindy Kardosh Tournament and wound up losing a close game, 49-45, to the Lions.
The Indians weren’t about to make the same mistake twice.
Conneaut Valley erupted for 18 fourth-quarter points and held Linesville to just a pair of field goals on its way to a thrilling 44-38 win in its Region 3 opener on Monday.
The win is the Indians’ sixth in seven region contests against Linesville since its former coach Rick Chesko took over the program at Valley in 2007-08.
Conneaut Valley is now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in Region 3. Linesville fell to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the region.
“At the Christmas tournament my assistant coach and I talked about what went wrong and so on and so forth and we both thought that we kind of ran out of gas in the fourth quarter,” Chesko said. “They started showing signs of that again (last night) in the third quarter.
“A lot of people were asking to come out. I’m glad that they were honest this time instead of showing me they were tired by committing ridiculous fouls.”
It was one of those substitutes that helped turn things around for the Indians in the fourth quarter.
Linesville had a 32-26 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play. But Valley opened the fourth with an 11-2 run that gave the Indians a 37-34 lead with 3:48 remaining. It was the Indians’ first lead of the game and was highlighted by a 3-pointer by junior reserve Tabatha Wood that cut the Indians’ deficit in half just a minute-and-a-half into the period.
Linesville did retake the lead (38-37) with 1:46 left following back-to-back jumpers by Challen Litwiler. But a missed defensive assignment left Emily Steigerwald wide open under the basket on Valley’s ensuing possession and her easy layup gave the Indians a 39-38 lead, which it would not relinquish.
Conneaut Valley ended the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run.
Steigerwald had six points and four rebounds in the period. Kelly Boyce added five points and four rebounds.
“I didn’t look at the book yet, but I think Emily only had two points at the half,” Chesko said following the game. “I kind of barked at her in one of the huddles about her getting into the game. She arrived.
“And Kelly … What can I say about Kelly? Last year if she scored three points in a game, it was cause for celebration. Now she is being an active participant which is making us a little bit better.”
Steigerwald and Boyce finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Steigerwald had 12 rebounds and Boyce 11.
“Big let down,” Linesville coach Bill Stevenson said. “Take nothing away from Valley. They beat us. That’s the bottom line. We didn’t do what we should have or could have or would have and they put the hammer to us.”
Linesville was led by Challen Litwiler’s 13 points and 10 rebounds. Amber Litwiler added 12 points and 13 rebounds. Amber Litwiler was contained to just two points — on free throws — in the second half.