By Zach Baker
NORWALK - The box score says that Sydnie Fetherolf had something of a pedestrian game.
She had just four points in Norwalk's 51-32 win over Columbian Thursday night.
But here's the thing:
Box scores lie.
There are no statistics that translate what Fetherolf did for the Truckers. The only statistics that can give you an idea are the ones put up by the player she guarded - Valesha Province.
Province, who came into Thursday's contest averaging more than 25 points a game, was blanketed by Fetherolf all game. The TC star didn't make a field goal, and really didn't get open much. She was held to seven points on the evening, all from the free throw line. She didn't even attempt a 3.
"That was our goal coming in," Norwalk coach Brock Manlet said. "Our goal was to keep (Province) under 15, we could win the game. I think Syd's the best defender, and I've told our team that multiple times. She's very quick. She's long and lanky and it's hard to get a shot off on her.
"To hold (Province) to seven points is a feat."
Columbian coach Katie Fazekas credited Fetherolf, but also said Province still was able to be effective.
"Valesha had nine assists," Fazekas said. "Credit to her that when they shut her down scoring, her offense didn't shut down."
Norwalk (9-4, 5-1 Northern Ohio League) jumped out early on TC, beginning the game on an 11-0 run and going to the second quarter up 13-4. A jumper by Alicia Lortcher gave the Truckers a 22-8 edge on the Tornadoes with 4:54 left in the half, and it looked like the rout was on.
But Columbian came back.
It closed the half on a 10-4 run, then got closer in the third quarter. A Payge Smith basket got the Tornadoes within 26-20. Laura Heminger's layup with 5:29 left in the third cut Norwalk's lead to 30-24, and TC appeared to have some momentum.
But Norwalk recovered, finishing the quarter on a 13-4 spurt, and led 43-28 after three.
"We come out for three minutes, guns a-blazin'," Fazekas said. "And then all of a sudden we just disappear. We can't play in spurts. You have to be able to sustain it.
"I think we had them on the ropes a little bit; I think the kids were executing," Fazekas said. "We were forcing some turnovers, and then we just disappeared. Norwalk's a good team, credit to them, but I don't think it's anything differently that Norwalk did, ... we can't go for droughts without energy, and we had really poor energy tonight."
Key in the Norwalk third quarter was Jiselle Thomas, who made three layups. Thomas gave Manlet what he was looking for - someone who'd go to the basket.
"We talked about that at halftime; we weren't aggressive enough," Manlet said. "That's our game. Our game is being aggressive and getting easy baskets, and for whatever reason, we went away from that in the first half. I don't know why. But then once we (went to the hoop), the lead started to spread a little bit."
Norwalk was led by Lortcher's 17 points, while Thomas finished with 11.
Heminger led the Tornadoes (1-13, 0-7) with 13 points.
"Laura had a much better game tonight," Fazekas said. "She finished better."
Columbian was limited from the outside offensively. It didn't make a 3-pointer, attempting only one. It did go 10 for 13 from the foul line, while the Truckers were just 1 for 4.