Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
BAINBRIDGE — If there’s a better freshman duo than Adena’s Emma Garrison and Kiera Williams in Southern Ohio, we have yet to find it.
Yes, that’s a bold statement. But it’s also a fact.
In Thursday’s early season showdown at Paint Valley, fans got a first glimpse of just how special the two could be with the game on the line. In a 56-44 win over the previously undefeated Bearcats, Garrison and Williams combined for 32 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists.
Put simply, Paint Valley didn’t have an answer for them.
“We expect a lot. We’ve been playing with each other since third grade,” Williams said. “We know each other really well and we work really well together.”
Meanwhile, Jadyn Smith shined once again. After Tuesday’s 18-point performance in a victory over Huntington, the junior finished with 13 points and six rebounds — scoring 11 points in the second half to paint the Warriors’ road to victory.
Smith, alongside defensive stalwart Makaela Lovely and strong post play from Cheyenne Ater, provided late leadership while the team’s young guns continued to find ways to score.
“The first half was kind of a struggle but that’s a credit to Paint Valley,” Adena coach Andrew Day said. “They got after us and I don’t think we handled it that well. But we settled down at halftime, came out and used defense to create offense. We just made shots in the second half, where we didn’t in the first.”
Right out of the gate, Williams was fouled while drilling a 3. She hit the ensuing foul shot and the Warriors (6-0, 3-0 SVC) had a 4-0 lead with 7:08 to go in the first quarter. Makaela Lovely then scored her first bucket of the night to make it a 6-0 score.
But Paint Valley (3-1, 1-1 SVC) answered with a 7-0 run, led by Hanna Uhrig, before Garrison hit one of two foul shots to produce a 7-7 tie heading into the second.
After Kendall Dye put the Bearcats on top at 13-12, Williams and Smith sank back-to-back buckets to put Adena on top, 16-13. But the Bearcats made another run, this time at 7-4, to force a 20-20 tie at the break.
“I think running the floor and getting some easy buckets always helps,” Day said. “Once our confidence got going, that was key for us.”
With 6:34 left in the third, Uhrig gave Paint Valley a 25-23 lead with a triple. But Garrison and Smith quickly combined for a 6-0 run to give the Warriors a 29-25 advantage. That lead swelled to 38-29 with 3:24 left before Adena took a 41-35 edge into the fourth.
Williams dialed long distance in the fourth before Makenna Lovely got a putback to fall, extending the lead to 46-35 with 6:59 left. PV eventually cut the deficit to single digits at 49-40, but Garrison answered with a 3, making it 52-40, and ultimately putting the game out of reach.
Garrison led the Warriors with a game-high 20 points alongside 12 rebounds and five assists. Smith had 13 points and six rebounds while Williams added 12 points and four assists.
For Paint Valley, Uhrig finished the evening with 15 points and five rebounds while Olivia Smith had 11 points and 10 boards. Dye, Abbi Stanforth and Averi McFadden all had six points.
Both teams are back in conference action on Tuesday. Paint Valley will host Westfall while Adena travels to Unioto.
“It was a good night. This is a tough place to win and Paint Valley is a really good team,” Day said. “We knew it was going to require toughness. We got tough, especially in the second half and down the stretch.”
Adena: 7-13-21-15 — 56
Paint Valley: 7-13-15-9 — 44
Adena: 20-52 FG, 10-15 FT, 6-22 3pt., 38 rebounds (Garrison 12), 17 turnovers, 12 assists (Garrison 5). Scoring: Garrison 20, Smith 13, Williams 12, Maka. Lovely 5, Make. Lovely 4, Curry 2.
Paint Valley: 15-57 FG, 12-16 FT, 2-21 3pt., 31 rebounds (Smith 10), 18 turnovers, 5 assists (Dye 2). Scoring: Uhrig 15, Smith 11, McFadden 6, Stanforth 6, Dye 6.