HOWARD — The East Knox Bulldogs racked up 35 points in the first half and the home team did enough in the second half to hold off the Fredericktown Freddies Saturday, 59-49.
East Knox started out pouring in 15 points in the first quarter. Meggan Bartok racked up five points in the frame and a bucket by Morgan McCauley just before the buzzer pushed the Bulldogs to 15 points. The Freddies hung tough with 10 points of their own. Sophie Lester got hot and notched eight points in the opening eight minutes, including four from the stripe. Offensive rebounds helped Fredericktown stay close in the first.
“I thought as a whole, that first quarter especially, we hit the glass hard and kept the defense a little more solid early on,” Fredericktown coach Tim Maceyko said. “That was a key there.”
In the second, East Knox continued to break the game open. Bartok tacked on another six points to her total and four other Bulldogs scored to give the home team 20 points in the second quarter. On the other end of the floor, six Freddies scored, but the team only tallied 13 points to head into the break down 35-23. The Bulldogs prepared for a different defensive gameplan, but the Freddies switched it up so it took some time for East Knox to get going on the offense.
“She (Bartok) has settled into her role and the kids are starting to figure it out,” East Knox coach Chip Pozderac said. “The kids settled in.”
Bartok had her highest scoring quarter in the third, turning in 10 of the team’s 12 points. She went to the line for eight freebie attempts in the third and nailed six of them. The Freddies went 6 of 8 at the stripe in the third quarter as a team and was just off the pace set by the home team with 10 points. East Knox went into the fourth quarter up 47-33.
“We’re not going to quit,” Maceyko said. “We’re going to come out harder in the fourth quarter and we did that.”
The Freddies came out putting up the points in the fourth quarter. A pair of Celeste Swihart free throws cut the lead to single digits, 47-38, with 4:47 left, and the lead was further cut to eight.
Although the Freddies outscored the Bulldogs 16-12 in the fourth quarter, East Knox had done enough in the previous three quarters to secure the 10-point win.
Bartok was the star of the show for the Bulldogs with 21 points, seven rebounds, four dimes, a steal and the team’s lone block. Taylor Nunamaker was also in double digits with 10 points and a pair of boards. Sydney Buckingham held it down in the paint with eight points and four board and Abbigail Buckingham chipped in six points and five nabs off the glass. McCauley hit three free throws in the fourth to finish with five points and four rebounds. Alexandria Magers, Anjel Montgomery, Cassidy Gebhardt and Ashley VanHoose combined for the remaining nine points.
Lester paced the Freddies, who had nine players score, with 10 points, three rebounds and an assist. Tayler Overholt just missed double figures with nine points, but she led the team with three assists and chipped in eight boards. Jacklyn Nussbaum had seven points and a team-high 10 boards. Olivia Mast knocked down a three on her way to six points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Swihart came off the bench for five points. Haylee Hulse and Gabby Daniels each had four points and Audrey Bouton and Summer Weller each had a bucket in the second quarter.
Fredericktown dropped to 0-13 on the year with a 0-10 mark in the conference. The Freddies will look for their first win of the season today on the road against Danville, with JV kicking off at 6 p.m. East Knox now sits at 8-7 on the year and 6-5 in the conference. The Bulldogs return to action Wednesday at home against Coshocton, starting with JV at 6 p.m. With three more league games left this winter, the Bulldogs are still in the thick of the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference standings.
“There’s no cruise control,” Pozderac said. “We cannot put it in cruise control with these kids and these teams that we are playing. We’ve still got some things to work out.”