You are here

Bluffton girls edge AE to claim tourney crown; Scoles named MVP

By Cort Reynolds

The Bluffton girls basketball team held off a late rally to defeat backyard rival Allen East 55-52 in an exciting championship game at the annual Lewis Family McDonald's Holiday tournament late Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Mustangs had a last-gasp chance to tie it on a left wing three-pointer in the final seconds. The shot by senior Kennedy Truex was on line but came up just short to preserve the three-point Pirate win.

The Pirate girls improved to 2-0 with the hard-fought win. AE fell to 1-1 with the difficult defeat.

"Allen East is pretty good," said veteran Pirate head coach Eric Garmatter. "We made some big free throws at the end. We wanted the ball in Sami's hands as much as possible."

Smart senior point guard Sami Scoles sank seven of eight foul shots in the final period. As a team in the fourth period, Bluffton canned 10 of 12 free throws.

Tournament MVP Scoles netted 38 points in the two-game set, including 23 in the title showdown.

"Luckily we got a good shot at the end, she just rushed it a bit," said AE head coach Aaron Montgomery. "It was a very physical game. We expect that when two league rivals meet."

All five Pirate starters scored early, capped by a Riley Eachus corner triple at the 2:22 mark. Eachus then stole the ball and scored a layup to provide an 11-4 lead with 65 ticks left in the opening stanza.

Quick AE trailed 12-5 after the first period, but methodically chipped its way back into contention behind a scrappy fullcourt press.

Seven points by Rilynn Jones in the second stanza and four from Truex helped close the gap. Truex nailed a 14-footer, and Jones made a southpaw layup. 

Truex then converted a layin off a nice Savana Brooks in-bounds pass.

Jones sank a nice left baseline layup to pull within 16-15, but Bluffton ran off the next six points. Jones then banked in a leanin three-point play to inch within 22-18 with 8.8 seconds to go in the half.

The Pirates pushed the ball upcourt and Julia Mehaffie knocked in a short bank shot just before the buzzer to put the hosts ahead 24-18 at the half.

Scoles netted a layup on an in-bounds feed by Kendal Giesige for the first basket of half two. Brooks then started to heat up. She made a layin off a steal and assist from Elle Richardson.

Jones banked in a triple to edge within 26-25. A right wing trifecta by Brooks tied it 28-all at the 3:33 mark.

AE took its first lead since 2-0 when Brooks stole the ball and fed the speedy Jones for a layup. 

Truex then tallied a layin off a Brooks in-bounds assist to give the Mustangs their biggest lead of the game at 32-28 with 2:55 to go in the third period.

Just when it seemed AE had taken control, Giesige answered with two clutch baskets to swing the momentum back to the Pirates. The 5-9 senior sank a fast break floater, then hit a driving three-point banker to give the hosts the lead back at 33-32.

Brooks answered by nailing a pull-up shot with 1:17 to go in the third. Scoles responded by converting a driving three-point bank shot a mere eight seconds later.

Scoles and Brooks each added two free throws in the final seconds to keep the Pirate margin at 38-36 heading to the final quarter.

Southpaw Scoles knocked down an off-balance right-handed banker 30 seconds into the final period. Brooks drained a 17-foot pull-up shot. But Scoles hit two foul shots, then backed her way in, spun and scored at the six-minute mark.

Mehaffie converted a transition layup off a turnover to extend the lead to 46-38 with 5:05 left. Brooks came back to swish a 16-footer.

Truex then hustled to grab an offensive rebound and while prone under the basket, passed to Brooks for a nice left side banker to cut the deficit to 46-42.

Mehaffie got loose again for a transition layup to make it 48-42 at the 3:30 mark. "We lost players in transition a couple times for easy layups," Montgomery lamented.

Jones canned two free tosses to cut the lead to four, and then Bluffton went into a delay game.

Both teams turned the ball over and the Pirates blocked a shot. Scoles was fouled and made two free tosses with 53.5 ticks left. Jones kept AE alive with a driving three-point play with 30 seconds left that halved the deficit to three.

Scoles split a pair at the line. Jones then drove the length of the court past the defense for another quick layin to cut it to 51-49 with 21.7 seconds to go. 

The heady Scoles calmly swished two foul shots two seconds later. Brooks then banked in a triple from the top of the key to get AE within a point with 12.8 seconds left.

Bluffton 6-2 sophomore post Ayla Grandey was fouled and drained two free throws with 11.4 seconds to go to build the lead to three

"Ayla's touch is coming along; she stepped up and hit two big free throws at the end," Garmatter noted.

AE tried to set up a tying triple try for Brooks. But as she ran down the baseline and looped back through the lane behind some screens, she was blanketed by the expectant defense. 

Truex popped wide-open on the left wing, but her rushed shot with about five seconds left was a bit flat and short. Richardson's short putback missed just before the buzzer to end the well-played, early season battle.

"It was a back and forth game," Montgomery summed up. "Both teams know each other well, so we expect a close game like that. Scoles is a high IQ player. She drew a lot of fouls, and good players do that."

Versatile standout Brooks tallied 19 of her team-high 21 markers in the second half, asserting herself along with Jones to spearhead the AE rally.

Scoles tossed in a game-high 23 points on the strength of 13 free throws. The steady senior used her 5-10 frame and guile to score on drives and put the onus on the officials to call fouls. 

"They pressured Sami and made it hard for her," noted Garmatter. "She played a lot of minutes."

Giesige netted 10 key points, while Grandey added nine.

Speedy Jones contributed 19 points, 12 in the second half. Jones and Brooks combined to tally 31 of the 34 Mustang points after intermission. Truex netted six markers.

The Lady Pirates canned 18 baskets. They made one shot from beyond the arc, and sank 17 shots from two-point range. Bluffton converted 18 of 28 charity stripe tries (64 percent).

AE also made 17 two-point field goals, and drained three triples for 20 total baskets. They sank nine of 13 foul shots (69 percent).

Bluffton outscored AE by nine points at the line, with Scoles taking (17) and making (13) more than the AE team.

Grandey and Giesige joined Scoles on the all-tourney team.

Brooks, who scored 43 points in the two games, was named all-tournament. Jones also made the all-tournament team.

Blufton hosts rival AE again in the regular season finale February 9, with possible league ramifications on the lne.

AE 52 (1-1)

Truex 3 0-1 6, Brooks 8 3-4 21, Jones 7 4-4 19, Young 1 0-0 2, Miller 0, Richardson 1 2-4 4, Nickles 0. 

Totals: 17-3/9-13/52. 3-pointers: Brooks 2, Jones 1. 

Bluffton 55 (2-0)

Schweingruber 1 0-0 2, Mehaffie 3 0-2 6, Eachus 2 0-1 5, Scoles 5 13-17 23, Giesige 4 2-3 10, Grandey 3 3-5 9. 

Totals: 17-1/18-28/55. 3-pointers: Eachus 1.


1 2 3 4 F

AE 5 13 18 16 52

Bluf 12 12 14 17 55


Cory-Rawson (1-1) defeated Arlington 56-37 in the third-place consolation contest early Saturday afternoon. Paige McVetta led C-R with 11 points. Red Devil Brooklyn Smith scorted 13.

Arlington's Smith (36 points in the tourney) and 6-0 senior post Makayla Gilfillan of Cory also made the all-tournament team. 

Bluffton is off until they host LCC Tuesday, Nov. 29. The Pirates then entertain Ft. Jennings (1-0) December 1.