Eagles fly past Devils
By MICHAEL S. BURICH
HANOVERTON – Below the scoreboard in United Local’s gym hangs a banner congratulating the girls basketball team on four consecutive Inter-Tri County League upper tier championships.
It mentions the word ‘Dynasty’ and it’s looking more like that distinction will extend into its fifth season as United is hitting on all cylinders after an 87-48 thrashing of rival Lisbon on Monday.
The Eagles (13-2, 8-0) lead the ITCL upper tier and the 87-point output was the most against a league opponent this season. The only other game with a higher output for United was a win over Beaver Local that netted 91 points.
“We’ve been in the 70s and 80s consistently I think in the last four or five games,” United coach Sam Mathias said. “We’ve been shooting really well and the energy is just through the roof.”
United senior point guard Emily Zehentbauer left her mark against Lisbon with a career-high 30 points.
“It doesn’t shock me,” Mathias said. “Emily works hard and stays after practice to shoot around. She’s a very disciplined kid that knows she’s very good and doesn’t accept that. She wants to be better.”
Her previous career-high was 23 points.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the team clicking right now,” Zehentbauer said.
She also said that as a senior she’s playing extra hard and leaving it all out on the court.
“It’s my senior year, so I’m going to play every minute and second like it’s the hardest I’ve ever played,” Zehentbauer said.
She also had six rebounds and three steals in a game that saw the Eagles score at least 20 points in three of the quarters.
“It’s hard for a team to stay up against us because we go nine or 10 deep,” Mathias said.
Another asset the Eagles used to their advantage was senior post player Courtney Hydrick. She turned in 21 points, six rebounds and three steals.
“Courtney has come a long way this year coming back after taking a year off with some knee problems,” Mathias said. “She’s fit right in with what we want to do running up and down the floor. She’s learned the defensive mentality that we wanted her to.”
Hydrick as well as Mollie Phillis, who missed last season with injury, have been key additions to a team that had nearly all of its pieces back from a regional berth a season ago.
“There wasn’t even a speed bump with them,” Zehentbauer said. “It was a smooth transition because we’re used to each other. They only took one year off, but we’ve been playing together since junior high.”
United guard MacKenzie Gatchel also created havoc in the Lisbon backcourt on her way to 14 points, five rebounds and three steals.
“I don’t even know how to put it,” Zehentbauer said. “MacKenzie is a really great defender.”
Lisbon fell to 7-7, 2-6.
“He’s got seven really good basketball players,” Lisbon coach Jason Thompson said. “We just didn’t respond to their pressure or their rebounding.”
Lisbon committed 24 turnovers and gave up 16 offensive rebounds, but did have spurts of good shooting – especially in the second quarter.
“It’s just not going to get it done, especially against a team like this,” Thompson said.
Pam Pierce and Sarah Boyd had 15 points each to spark the Devil attack.
United hosts East Palestine on Thursday.
The Eagles won the jayvee game 53-15. Kenzie Firth had 16 points for the winners. Hannah Prasco had seven for Lisbon.
Lisbon is at Mineral Ridge on Friday.