Brock Netter, Staff Writer
BAINBRIDGE — Paint Valley was in quarantine for two weeks, and only had a handful of practices under its belt.
But Olivia Smith looked as if she was in midseason form on Tuesday.
The junior scored a team-high 15 points and set a new school record for rebounds in a single game with 25 — passing Mary Scott’s previous mark of 24 set in 1982 — to lead her Bearcats (1-0) to a 52-25 victory over Western.
“She’s a rebounding animal, and that’s one thing we always know for sure she’s going to do for our team,” Paint Valley coach Tristan Norman said. “Her nose for the ball is second to none and she did such a fantastic job of getting us some second chance opportunities. She knows where the ball is going at all times, and she finds it. You couldn’t ask for a better start to a season than a double-double.”
Smith’s teammate Kendall Dye echoed those sentiments.
“I don’t know how she gets half of these rebounds sometimes, yet she just jumps up and gets them,” Dye said. “She’s always aggressive, drives to the rim and gets a lot of strong put backs. We can always depend on her to get those rebounds if our shots aren’t on, and it’s great to have someone like that on our team.”
Speaking of Dye, she made quite the impression in her first game as a Bearcat. Expanding her game to the midrange, and from downtown occasionally, she ended the night with 13 points and seven rebounds.
“We’re very lucky to have her this year with us,” Smith said of Dye. “I’m sure it’s not easy being the new girl on a team, but she’s outstanding. She works very hard and I couldn’t be more proud of her for how she played tonight.”
Western (0-1) certainly had its chances to keep the game closer, or potentially take a lead after getting to the free throw line 17 times in the first half. However, the Indians only converted seven of those freebies while making just three shots from the field.
Meanwhile, Smith got to work early, scoring the Bearcats’ first five points and pulling down six rebounds to pace PV to a 10-3 lead after the first quarter.
Smith continued to pull down boards while Dye, Abbi Stanforth and Averi McFadden poured in buckets that pushed the lead to double digits before a 23-15 halftime score.
Despite the struggles Western had on the floor, it still had a chance after scoring 12 points in the second with Kenzi Ferneau drilling a pair of 3’s.
“We talked after halftime about how every possession needs to matter more,” Norman said. “We also emphasized running our offense and getting the looks we wanted at the basket. I don’t know if we necessarily did that because we weren’t getting shots to fall, but we still brought that intensity in the third quarter.”
The Indians couldn’t buy a bucket in the third with their only field goal coming from a lay-in by Chloe Beekman.
On the opposite end, Smith, Stanforth, McFadden and Dye each had buckets and helped make stops on the defensive end. That mix allowed the Bearcats to win the third by a 14-2 margin, blowing the doors off the hinges for a 37-17 lead before cruising to a season-opening victory.
“It was a great effort and intensity that we had, especially after not playing or practicing for a period of time,” Norman said. “There’s a number of things that we have to clean up, but I was happy with how we played defensively and caused a lot of turnovers. We got a lot of good looks at the basket, but we have to convert those shots moving forward.”
After Smith and Dye’s final stat lines, Stanforth added nine points and four rebounds while McFadden had five points, five rebounds and five assists.
Beekman ended the night with seven points and seven rebounds for the Indians, followed by seven points and six rebounds from Ferneau.
Paint Valley returns to action on Dec. 3 at home against Zane Trace while Western opens SOC I action on Monday at Symmes Valley.