Girls basketball: Bluffton holds off Crestview

BLUFFTON — Coming into Thursday night’s Northwest Conference contest with Crestview, Bluffton head coach Eric Garmatter knew he was going to be shorthanded after learning one of his players was sick, so he challenged his squad to find the energy to compete.

The Pirates did not let their coach down as they jumped out to an early lead and then held off a late surge by the Knights to secure a 61-51 win.

With the with Bluffton improves to 9-3 overall and 2-1 in the NWC. The Knights fall to 10-2 on the season and 2-1 in conference play.

“We knew it was going to be a tough matchup,” Bluffton head coach Eric Garmatter said. “We got a blow this morning with Kylie Stackhouse. She got sick this morning and she couldn’t even make it and Rylie Eachus stepped up and Kendal Giesige stepped up.

“I told them one person’s misfortune is another person’s opportunity and they stepped up and made some big plays. We knew we were going to play six girls and I told them it is a 32 minute game and I told them we have to find that energy and take a deep breath and find that energy because we can rest tomorrow. I told them they are going to make mistakes and they are going to come after us but we just have to move onto the next play and they did a great job of that.”

Crestview head coach Mark Gregory said Bluffton outworked them in every facet of the game.

“We lost girls on the court and they shot extremely well,” Gregory said. “They got every bounce tonight and credit them. They did all the things right tonight and we didn’t. They did a good job of mixing up defenses and I think again we maybe took the first shot we had available to us instead of working the defense like we talk about in practice. We weren’t hitting the shots and that’s the difference in the game.”

It was precision perimeter shooting and a tenacious defensive effort that allowed Bluffton to open up a 20-16 lead after the first quarter and a 36-25 advantage at halftime.

In the first 16 minutes, Sami Scoles, who would lead all scorers with 21 points, popped four 3-pointers in the first quarter and Riley Eachus added two more in the second stanza. In the first half, Bluffton hit seven treys,

That trend continued into the third quarter and the Pirates’ opened up as much as an 18-point lead in the third quarter and going into the final eight minutes held a 47-32 lead.

With the big cushion, the Pirates opted to try and spread the ball out and eat some clock but the strategy nearly backfired as the Knights began to chip away at the lead and with 2:35 left in the game had sliced it to a eight point lead, 51-43, with 2:35 left in the game.

But the Pirates did just enough defensively and at the free throw line to secure the victory.

Scoles was not the only one in double digits for the Pirates. Eachus finished with 11 points and Kylie Monday and Ayla Granday each contributed 10 points each.

Defensively, the Pirates never allowed the Knights, in particular Cali Gregory, to get into a rhythm. The standout sophomore finished with 14 points but was limited to three points in the second and third quarter. Laci McCoy added 13 points.

“We knew she (Gregory) is one of the best two players in the league if not the best player in the league and I think Sami put her in the mention too,” Garmatter said. “We wanted to make it tough on Gregory. She is a great player and a great shooter. We wanted to have a hand on her and close to her at all times. We wanted somebody else to beat us because we know what she can do. Not to take anything away from the rest of the girls because they are all good, but we wanted to take our chances against them instead of her.”

Another key was Bluffton’s Grandey controlling the paint. In addition to her scoring she also grabbed eight rebounds and did a solid job defensively on Myia Ezler who finished with points and all those came in the fourth quarter.

Garmatter praised the efforts of Grandey who is a freshman.

“She played 32 minutes tonight and i haven’t done that this year,” the Bluffton head coach. “I told her I’d give her the timeouts and to rest. I could not be more proud of this team.”

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Bluffton’s Sami Scoles puts up a shot against Crestview’s Macy Kulwicki during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton. See more high school basketball photos at LimaScores.com.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_Bluffton-vs-Crestview-001.jpgBluffton’s Sami Scoles puts up a shot against Crestview’s Macy Kulwicki during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton. See more high school basketball photos at LimaScores.com. Richard Parrish | The Lima News

Crestview’s Laci McCoy puts up a shot against Bluffton’s Sami Scoles during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_Bluffton-vs-Crestview-002.jpgCrestview’s Laci McCoy puts up a shot against Bluffton’s Sami Scoles during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton. Richard Parrish | The Lima News

Crestview’s Emily Greulach guards Bluffton’s Kylie Monday during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_Bluffton-vs-Crestview-005.jpgCrestview’s Emily Greulach guards Bluffton’s Kylie Monday during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton. Richard Parrish | The Lima News

Crestview’s Laci McCoy attempts a shot against Bluffton’s Kylie Monday, left, and Ayla Grandey during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_Bluffton-vs-Crestview-003.jpgCrestview’s Laci McCoy attempts a shot against Bluffton’s Kylie Monday, left, and Ayla Grandey during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton. Richard Parrish | The Lima News

Crestview’s Cali Gregory puts up a shot against Bluffton’s Kendal Giesige during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_Bluffton-vs-Crestview-004.jpgCrestview’s Cali Gregory puts up a shot against Bluffton’s Kendal Giesige during Thursday night’s game at Bluffton. Richard Parrish | The Lima News
Both now 2-1 in NWC

By Jose Nogueras

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Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.