By Aaron Korte
ONTARIO - Ontario girls basketball coach Sue Homan made one thing very clear to her team less than four minutes into the game Tuesday night.
"You can't leave her alone," Homan said to her team of Columbian's Valesha Province.
For good reason, as Province outscored Ontario 11-8 in the first quarter alone.
But as Homan and the rest of the Warriors learned, Columbian isn't a one-girl scoring machine.
Province scored 24 points and got plenty of help from the rest of her team as Columbian snapped its Northern Ohio League skid, beating Ontario, 56-47, to give the Tornadoes their first league win in 10 tries.
"Overall team win. We put in some new stuff last week. The kids are buying in," Columbian coach Katie Fazekas said. "The defense looked good."
Province and Columbian led Ontario 11-8 at the end of the first quarter, but after that her teammates got involved in the scoring fun as five other Tornadoes scored in the second quarter. It allowed Columbian to stretch its lead to 26-18 by halftime.
"My shot was really on," Province said. "As the game goes on, the defense obviously starts tightening up as I hit shots, but the first quarter, it was really on and my teammates got me the ball and got me open. It really helped a lot."
The defense swarmed Province in the second half, holding her to just eight points, including just two field goals. While that was more than the rest of her teammates that half, it was the contributions of five others that stretched the lead to 39-25 after three quarters.
"We wanted to slow her down and she hurt us the first game. We went box and one a little bit. That took her out of her game a little bit," Homan said. "She's a nice player and the thing about her, she can shoot with you guarding her. She's a nice player and I give her credit. We were just a little too slow to get to her when we needed to."
Ontario (3-15, 1-10 NOL) mounted a furious comeback in the final stanza, but Columbian took care of business at the line to keep the Warriors at bay.
"We had two teams that really hustled and got after things," Homan said. "We're both kind of in a tough place in our season and they played very well. I gave my kids credit. They fought to the very end and that's all you're asking for now as we get ready for tournaments and try to improve our game."
Payge Smith and Mckenzie Zimmerman each scored eight points and Sidney Baker and Chelsea Hutchins each tossed in six for Columbian (2-15, 1-9).
"Val got us off to a quick start, hit a couple big 3s, and then everybody else filled in," Fazekas said. "We've had games where she scores and everybody else kind of hits a drought and we didn't have that tonight. We got contributions from everybody so those are the wins you like."
Province added 13 rebounds, three steals and four assists to her 24 points. But she said she'd take less scoring if it meant more results like Tuesday night.
"That was awesome. I'd rather win a game like that than win a game and score all the points myself," Province said. "When they overplayed me, my teammates got open and they finished and that's all I asked for."
Jayde Niss and Olivia Shaver each had 13 points in the loss.