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Monday, December 29th, 2008

Cavs hold off Bulldogs for first win

By Gary R. Rasberry

Coldwater's Haley Stucke, with ball, is guarded closely by Celina's Cayla Hellwa. . .

COLDWATER - One had to think with the talent they have and the rich history of the program that the Coldwater girls basketball team would soon snap out of the six-game losing streak the Cavaliers had endured to start the season.
Saturday at The Palace against Mercer County rival Celina, Coldwater took the big step, coming back from eight down in the first half to hold off the Bulldogs 56-53 for the first win of the season. The Bullodogs drop to 4-3 to end the 2008 portion of the basketball season.
Throughout the season, Coldwater had solid performances in some areas of the game, but struggled in others which led to some tough losses. Saturday the Cavaliers put everything together, using a strong defense to force 20 Celina turnovers while putting together one of their best shooting performances this season.
"Everything bounced our way today," said Coldwater coach Nick Fisher. "We talked at halftime about we weren't playing as hard as we're capable of. We're playing better. In the second half we played a little harder.
Celina, up as many as eight points midway through the second quarter, led 25-22 at the half as Coldwater outscored the Bulldogs 7-2 down the stretch. Early in the third quarter, Coldwater came back to tie things up at 27-all, then with 91 seconds left in the quarter, Katie Lefeld hit a bucket to give the Cavaliers their first lead since early in the first quarter at 34-32. Abbey Welker tied things up at 34-all to end the quarter, setting up an exciting fourth quarter.
The teams would tie up again until 38-all when Haley Stucke, who had not attempted a shot in the first three quarters, nailed a three-pointer with 5:12 left in the game to put Coldwater up 41-38. Katelyn Moorman cut it to 41-40 seconds later, but Coldwater began to eat up clock and find a way to stay ahead, be it by timely shooting from the likes of Jessica Schmackers and Kara Uhlenhake or at the foul line. Turnovers and missed shots hurt Celina's chances as the Cavaliers expanded the lead to 52-46 with 2:19 left in the game on Betsy Fisher's three-pointer.
"Jess hit a big shot and Kara got that rebound and put it back in for a layup," said Fisher. "If those don't bounce our way, we're back in the same situation."
"I think Coldwater came out of their shooting slump today," said Celina coach Brian Stetler, noting the Cavaliers shot nearly 46 percent from the field in the contest. "That was the difference in the game. It wasn't really the pressure that hurt us that bad. We made more turnovers than we would have liked, obviously. You knew that was going to happen (Coldwater shooting)."
After a timeout by Stetler, Celina came back and within a minute got it to 52-51 with free throws from Cenzie Yoder, Kelsey Waterman and Cayla Hellwarth. Forced to foul, Celina put Stucke on the line with 68 seconds left. Stucke made both to put the Cavaliers up three. Celina could not get any shot to fall and lost Yoder to her fifth personal foul with 29.9 seconds as Lefeld went to the foul line to possibly ice the game. Lerfeld made the back end of the two-shot foul to make it a two-possesion game at 55-51.  
Candra Francis cut it to 55-53 with 18 seconds left and Stetler called a timeout. Coldwater could not handle the inbounds and lost the ball near the Celina bench with 15.2 seconds left. Celina worked the ball around and Moorman finally stepped up with a long jumper at the top of the key, but the ball just missed. The scramble for the ball ended up in Fisher's hands. Fisher made one free throw with 0.8 seconds, with the long Celina despartion shot falling well short of the bucket.
"I'm just proud of the way we battled," said coach Fisher. "Hopefully this will get a little confidence and continue to play better."
"We had a good shot for the win," said Stetler. "It was a good shot for (Moorman).
"Just a couple of things broke down. I didn't think our defense was too bad. Coldwater stepped up and made shots. We got into a little bit of foul trouble. That definitely hurt us a little. ... I'm definitely not taking anything away from Coldwater. Coldwater is always well-coached and they play hard."
Fisher and Marla Hess each had 11 points to lead Coldwater. Lefeld added nine.
Yoder finished with 12 points. Waterman and Francis each added 11.
Coldwater is back in action on Tuesday, traveling to McBroom Gymnasium to face St. Marys. Celina returns to action in the new year, hosting Parkway in a varsity contest. The game time for the Parkway-Celina varsity game will be moved up to 6:30 p.m. to allow fans to get home and watch the Ohio State-Texas Fiesta Bowl Game. The Celina junior varsity will play the Bath freshmen team at 5 p.m.
Additional online story on this date
Four teenagers were injured when two cars collided on West Logan Street at Zillah Street. The mishap occurred at 9:41 p.m. Dec. 27, according to Celina Police Department reports. [More]
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