Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Any player on any night. That’s who may lead McClain in scoring this season.
Using a well-balanced scoring sheet that featured four in double-digit scoring figures, the Tigers (2-0) nailed down their second consecutive win on Monday, blazing past Unioto by a 72-47 final.
That makes McClain coach Jarrod Haines smile and it’s something he expects to see throughout the rest of the season.
“Somebody asked me the other day about who I thought would lead us in scoring,” Haines said. “I told them it could be anybody that steps up. We’re sharing the basketball very well. They love each other and you can tell that. It’s fun to watch.”
Haines, who earned his 100th career win on Saturday when the Tigers opened their season with a 58-40 win over Greeneview, was also happy with his team’s defensive effort.
As usual, McClain clogged passing lanes and forced turnovers — 24 of them to be exact. It led to the Shermans (0-1) posting a shooting percentage of just 30.7.
“We want to be greedy. We don’t want anybody to score. We hang our coats on getting down and guarding somebody,” Haines said. “We feel we’re deep enough to run a lot of bodies in and press, press, press. That was the goal. We wanted to wear [Unioto] out. I was impressed with the run they made in the third quarter but I was more impressed with our maturity.”
With the game tied 7-7 early, McClain used a combination of Emma Stegbauer and Bri Weller to go on a quarter-ending 8-1 run, taking a 15-8 edge into the second.
The Tigers extended that run to 16-2, going ahead 23-9 after a 3 from Jaelyn Pitzer with 5:02 left in the first half. By halftime, the advantage had swelled to 36-15.
But in the third, the Shermans flipped the script.
Using a burst of energy, Unioto started the quarter on a 5-0 run to make it a 36-20 game. Later, down 43-20, Avery Miller, Nyanna Hatfield and Carissa Wheeler all made a difference, spearheading an 8-0 run to trim the lead back to 43-28 with 5:12 remaining.
By the end of the quarter, the Tigers’ lead had dwindled to 45-34.
But any chance of a complete comeback was nixed early in the fourth. Burchett scored two straight buckets to start the frame, making it 49-34 with 7:33 to go, and Stegbauer followed suit to make it a 53-34 ballgame.
From there, McClain shifted into cruise control and polished off a second straight victory.
“We’ve kind of always played young kids and now those young kids are seniors,” Haines said. “We’ve added a couple to the roster that makes us a little deeper, but I don’t really know our ceiling. I know they come everyday and work extremely hard. They’re hungry and it’s fun to coach when you have that. It just finally feels good to be seeing them reap their benefits of all their hard work.”
Burchett ended the night with 15 points and three assists while Weller had 15 points and seven rebounds. Stegbauer also had 15 points and Pryor finished with 12 points and nine boards.
For Unioto, Miller ended the night with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Hatfield added 12 points. Kylie Paul had six points, Wheeler had four points and five boards, and Sophie Coleman helped out with seven rebounds.
While the Shermans try to get back on track next Monday against Jackson, the Tigers look to their FAC opener against Washington on Saturday.
“We’ve got to clean some things up. I didn’t feel we handled their press all that well,” Haines said. “But again, we hang our hats on defense and we sat down and guarded tonight. But I’d like to handle the pressure a little better. We’ll get back to the drawing board.”
McClain: 15-21-9-25 — 72
Unioto: 8-7-19-13 — 47
McClain: 21-58 FG, 27-36 FT, 3-15 3pt., 34 rebounds (Pryor 9), 16 turnovers, 10 assists (Burchett 3). Scoring: Burchett 15, Stegbauer 15, Weller 15, Pryor 12, Pitzer 9, Easter 5, Baril 1.
Unioto: 16-52 FG, 11-18 FT, 4-12 3pt., 32 rebounds (Miller 10), 24 turnovers, 5 assists (Wheeler 2). Scoring: Miller 12, Hatfield 12, Paul 6, Renner 5, Uhrig 4, Wheeler 4, Book 3, Coleman 1.