STOW – After losing a month of basketball due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Stow-Munroe Falls girls’ team wants to make up for lost time.
However, during this break, Stow’s coach Bob Podges lost far more than a few weeks of training.
Josetta Podges, Bob Podges’ wife of 46 years, died during the holidays of complications from a non-COVID infection.
Confessed basketball junkie, Podges noted that the court had been a haven for him in recent weeks.
“It’s extremely therapeutic for me,” Podges said. “If I didn’t have basketball and girls right now, I don’t know what I would do.
“It distracts me from everything. Word only the games, but the planning, watching movies and training,” he added. “These things are so important to me right now.”
Bulldogs captain Lilee Carlson noted that the team were trying to rally around Podges.
“We are really struggling for him,” Carlson said. “We try to be there for him as best we can. He takes basketball as a way to get through. We want to help him as much as we can.”
On the court, the Bulldogs help out by playing like they’ve never taken a day off.
After a 64-36 win at Brecksville-Broadview Heights on Saturday and a 54-35 victory at Canfield on Monday, Stow returned to the James G. Tyree gym on Wednesday and put in one of his most dominant defensive performances of the season. .
Stow exploded for a 20-2 lead after a quarter and took a 56-16 victory over North Royalton.
Stow improved to 5-1 on the season while keeping the Bears winless. Podges noted that the Suburban League only counted the first game against conference rivals this season, so that game did not count towards the national conference standings.
Podges noted that everything is going well for the Bulldogs.
“We played well. We pushed the ball well into the pitch tonight,” Podges said. “Our playmakers had a great game in terms of their vision for the pitch. Ellie [McCoy] did a great job, Anna [Hurst] did a great job and even Alaina Ray came in and played well at the end. “
Podges was able to involve all of its college players in the game, as well as several of its junior college players. He noted that he wanted to keep his players as fresh as possible given that Stow is in the middle of a six-game streak in nine days.
Carlson said she was happy to see what her young teammates were doing.
“It’s really great of them to be in a varsity game and playing well,” said Carlson. “They are able to perform as they do in practice.”
Carlson led the Bulldogs with 12 points and set the tone by hitting a three to start the game.
The Bears had no answer for Stow’s defense, whether it was playing his standard “Pack Line” defense or going into a 1-2-2 trap.
It didn’t help that North Royalton was without head coach Lauren Stefancin, who was out due to a COVID quarantine.
The result was Stow forced 12 turnovers in the first half, while allowing only six Bear points.
North Royalton forward Tiffanie Radwanski counted for all points in the Bears’ first quarter ranking 2 of 4 from the free throw line.
With frequent substitutions, Stow’s attack slowed down in the second half. The defense, however, never rested, as the Bears didn’t score a basket until Radwanski hit a layup with 1:45 left in the half.
Up 29-6 at the half, Stow came out on an 8-0 run in the third quarter before North Royalton called the time out.
The Bulldogs led 44-9 after three quarters, after a Tierney Malley three points scored the Bears’ only points in the quarter.
Even with his second and third teammates, Podges has always seen his team take on the Bears. The final margin of 40 points equaled the most important of the game.
Stow finished the night 12 of 21 from the free throw line, compared to 5 of 13 for the Bears.
Carlson was the only double-digit player, but Stow contributed from everywhere. Forward Kristin Chmieleski finished with eight points and five rebounds, while forward Emily Ervin added seven pints and five rebounds off the bench. Hurst and forward Bella Adams each had six points.
Forward Kate Bockelmen led the Bears with six points, all obtained in the fourth quarter.
Stow’s busy week continues, as they will host Mentor Friday before welcoming Nordonia on Martin Luther King Day.
“It really pushes us, but it’s a lot of fun for us to play in all of these games, rather than just training all the time,” Carlson said.