GRANVILLE, Ohio-- A dry quarter typically spells doom for a team in basketball, and Licking Valley experienced just that on Saturday, going scoreless in the opening period of their game against the Blue Aces of Granville. The Panther offense was not able to figure out how to break the Aces tough zone defense all night, as they ended up falling 53-24.
The game started off slow on the offensive end for both teams, as it took a while for either squad to figure how to get past the opposition’s half-court zone. However, Granville was able to get a few shots to fall in as opposed to Licking Valley’s zero-point first quarter performance, and the Blue Aces took a 9-0 into the second quarter.
Licking Valley started to play faster on offense, firing up quick shots in an attempt to put points on the board, but to no avail, as they kept their scoreless streak alive well into the second quarter. The zone defense of Granville held strong for the duration of the quarter and two of their big men, senior Ben Blanchard and sophomore Will Skerbetz, added five points each as the Blue Aces led 21-8 at half.
The third quarter was a breakout stretch of the game for Granville senior Cam Crouch, as he added eight points including two three-pointers. Crouch has shown the ability to be a glue-guy for the Aces all year with his aggressiveness around the rim and on the boards, but Saturday he put on display a new aspect of his game, his shooting ability. While Licking Valley senior Chase Whisner tried to lead his team to a comeback with aggressiveness in attacking the basket, Granville rode the hot hand of the senior to extend the lead even further to 35-17 at the end of the third.
The final period brought much of the same luck for the Panthers on the offensive end, and all Granville did was extend their lead further by creating turnovers in the half-court and getting out to run in transition. It ended up being an early clock-out for the Granville starters, as the lead extended past 20 points and the bench squad was subbed in with over two minutes left. The Aces would end up running up the score and winning 53-24 on their home court in a big league win over the Panthers.
The Panthers had few bright spots throughout the night, led by Whisner, who was able to put together a nice performance with 12 points to go along with four rebounds. Junior backcourt sidekick Carson Conley also dropped in eight points, including two three-pointers. Licking Valley falls to 5-4 with the loss.
Granville was led in scoring by the senior Crouch, who had 14 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Junior Jake Stone added eight points as well as three assists, and Blanchard chipped in seven points and four boards. The Blue Aces climb to 6-2 on the season.
Cameron Crouch (6’2 WF / Granville / 2019): Crouch was the steady hand for the Blue Aces on the offensive end and showed the full breadth of his growth as a player since returning to the hardwood for his senior season. The senior is a do-it-all player who is athletic and sturdy enough to guard positions one through five. Though he is not the focal point of the Granville offense, he is always liable to cause problems for opposing defenses with his hustle and outside shooting prowess. Crouch does whatever is asked of him on the court for the Aces and repeatedly puts up solid numbers across the stat sheet by being in attack mode at all times on both ends. The versatile wing, a football commit to Olivet Nazerene University in Illinois, is looking like the backbone of this Blue Aces team and will be a vital X-factor for Granville as his senior season continues.
Chase Whisner (6’0 CG / Licking Valley / 2019): Whisner kept an aggressive mindset tonight even when his team was down and out, an admirable trait for the gritty Panther guard, who also is the quarterback of the state semi-finalist football team and a baseball prospect in the middle infield. The senior showed the ability to consistently finish on contested inside looks off of drives, including multiple athletic double-clutch and up-and-under finishes, and has great court vision and confidence as Licking Valley’s main ball-handler. The guard is one of the leaders of this Panther squad and uses his intensity and aggressiveness on both ends of the court. Look for Whisner to lead Licking Valley back on track as his team gets into the thick of LCL play.