COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In what is thought to be a regional final preview, top-ranked Newark hosted fourth-ranked Reynoldsburg in a matchup of old OCC-Ohio foes. In dominating fashion, Newark defeated Reynoldsburg 45-31 on Tuesday night.
After a back and forth first quarter, the score was deadlocked at seven headed into the second. After two strong finishes by junior Gwen Stare and two threes by senior Peyton Lunsford, Newark pushed the lead to ten, and never looked back, cruising into halftime with a 22-15 lead.
Junior Imarianah Russell completely owned the third quarter for the Raiders as she scored nine points on three triples. Russell was the only offense for Reynoldsburg in the third, as she was the only Raider to score in the quarter. Thanks to her efforts, Reynoldsburg was able to trim the lead to 31-24 heading to the fourth quarter.
Newark broke the game open in the fourth quarter, as a 12-0 run extended their lead and put the game out of reach for good. That major spurt was fueled by perfect press breaks and open layups. Newark allowed very few second chance points and dominated the offensive boards all night long. Their tenacious defense held Reynoldsburg, a team averaging 78 a game, to less than ten points in each quarter, proving to be the biggest advantage tonight.
The Wildcats featured a balanced scoring attack. Stare led with 11, followed by Emma Shumate with 10, Lunsford with nine, and Madyson Stottsberry with eight. For Reynoldsburg, Russell led all scorers with 12, followed by Mya Perry, Sam Savoy and Trinity Ramos with five each and Alexia Mobley with four.
Gwen Stare (5’8 G / Newark / 2022): Stare can be my point guard all day, every day. She carries herself like a seasoned veteran and handles the ball under pressure better than anyone we have seen this year. Need a quick two over an undersized guard? Stare is your gal. Need a spot up three in crunch time? She can do that too. Stare doesn't always pick up the toughest defensive assignment, but is willing to guard anyone at any time. Gwen is a competitor and a winner.
Peyton Lunsford (5’7 G / Newark / 2021) - Lunsford was a defensive monster tonight for the Wildcats. The Charleston commit helped hold opposing guards outside of Russell to just seven points. While Stare managed most of the ball handling, Lunsford proved to be a reliable handler helping to burn valuable time later in the game. Her quickness and effort led to many second chance looks for Newark. Tonight reinforced how valuable Lunsford’s experience is for the Wildcats.
Emma Shumate (6’1 G / Newark / 2021): Shumate, a West Virginia commit, makes everyone on the floor better. She had a hand in every part of the game tonight for Newark. She locked down Louisville commit Alexia Mobley, holding her to just four points. She handled the ball as needed, knocked down key shots and tipped or gathered dozens of missed shots. Shumate has a major impact around the rim and was a key defender in the post tonight.
Madyson Stottsberry (5’7 G / Newark / 2021): Stottsberry, an Ursuline commit, got the party started tonight for Newark. She scored their first four points and had a handful of offensive rebounds. We were most impressed with her effort on the defensive end of the floor. She is an absolute terror for opposing ball handlers and applies pressure without fouling. Stottsberry is constantly moving without the ball and attacks and dishes incredibly well.
Imarianah Russell (5’11 G / Reynoldsburg / 2022): Russell provides endless effort and competitiveness for Reynoldsburg. She has proven herself to be an elite perimeter defender, willing to defend anyone and everyone. She single handedly kept Reynoldsburg in the game in the third quarter with nine points. Russell can score in a variety of ways, but most important is her ability to get stops that lead to easy buckets on the other end of the floor.