UTICA — After only scoring 21 points in the first half, the Utica Redskins girls basketball team turned on the jets and netted 28 points in the second half, but it came up just short Tuesday, falling to Licking Valley, 55-49.
The Redskins got big contributions right out of the gates from both Taylor Heckman and Emily Londot, combining for the team’s nine points in the first quarter. Licking Valley notched 13 in the first eight minutes to hold a four-point advantage. Utica got the ball around in the second, with five different players scoring in the stanza, putting the team’s total at 12 for the frame. The home team was up 18-17 in the quarter after a three from Sydney Hoover, but the Panthers upped their offensive efforts by pouring in 16 in the second to hold a 29-21 lead at halftime.
“The second half we moved a little better on offense and moved the ball better,” Utica coach Terry Logue said. “We played better for the most part in the second half, defensively. That got us back in the game.”
Utica cut the scoring contributions down to only two Panthers and limited the visitors to eight points in the third, while the Redskins notched 11 from three different players, led by Shawna Blake’s six in the quarter. Heading into the fourth, Utica was down 37-32.
After three-straight Emily Londot buckets on three-straight Redskin possessions, Utica cut the lead to 43-30 with 5:04 to go. The Redskins tied the game at 43, but Licking Valley added a bit more distance, taking a 52-47 lead with 1:49 to go. Continued strong play from Utica kept it hanging around and with 34.1 seconds left, the margin was again at three (52-47). A missed bucket that would have tied the game was rebounded by the Panthers and they were able to milk away the clock and add three more points to seal the six-point win.
Londot was a big part of the Redskins’ comeback attempt and she finished the night with a double-double, notching 12 points and 17 rebounds.
“Emily is obviously our go-to girl, but I think we’re finally understanding as a team that if we can get the ball in to her, it opens up the offense for the other girls on the outside,” Logue said. “She’s a force.”
Heckman took advantage of some of those openings and paced Utica with 13 points, while adding three rebounds and a steal to her stat line. Blake was the third Redskin in double-figures, finishing the night with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals. Hoover had six points on two threes and Brianna Palmer and Scarlett Elliott combined for six points. The trio combined for five rebounds and two steals.
With three girls in double-figures, the Redskins still left a lot of points on the floor. The team went 11 of 27 (41 percent) from the charity stripe, with four occasions where both attempts were missed in a single opportunity.
“Free throws killed us and normally we shoot free throws really well,” Logue said. “If we’d made free throws, we’d probably win the game.”
Kylee White came off the bench for the Panthers and led the way with 14 points, two rebounds and a steal. Alexa Thomas had 11 points, seven boards and a steal, while Laney Griffith chipped in 10 points, two rebounds and two steals. Laken Griffith just missed double-figures, piling up eight points and two rebounds.
Emily Hartshorn paced Licking Valley on the glass with eight rebounds, which she paired with two points. Katie Slater, Jalyn Taylor and Addicyn Crane combined for 10 points, five rebounds and two steals.
There is still a lot of basketball to be played this winter, and the Redskins have another home game Friday against Johnstown, with a JV tip slated for 6 p.m.
“I’m excited about this group,” Logue said. “I think we’ll be pretty solid by the end of the year.”