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Friday, March 6th, 2009

Indians, Cardinals unable to pull off upsets

By Mark Ruschau

Fort Recovery's Chelsey Leuthold, with ball, is swarmed by the St. John's defens. . .

VAN WERT - Great second-half defense and timely offense were the keys to victory on the opening night of the Division IV girls district semifinals on Thursday night at Van Wert High School.
In the opener, the St. John's Blue Jays held Fort Recovery to just 19 points in the second half to rally and post a 48-46 win over the Indians. The nightcap featured a battle between two of the top teams in the state, and the top-ranked Crestview Knights relied on their defense to post a 47-36 win over the number-three Cardinals.
Crestview will take on St. John's for the district title on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Van Wert. Fort Recovery bows out at 17-6, while New Bremen end the season at 21-2.
St. John's 48, Fort Recovery 46
In the opener, St. John's withstood an early offensive barrage by the Indians and used defense and timely shooting to get back in the game to eventually pull off the victory.
In the first half, Fort Recovery hit on 11-of-19 shots, including 8-of-12 in the opening period, to take a 27-19 lead at the half. Eight different Indians dented the scoring column, led by Chelsey Leuthold with six points. However, in the second half, St. John's held Fort Recovery to just seven field goals in its final 16 shots. The Blue Jays forced 12 second-half Indian turnovers.
"I think tonight was just another great game between two great teams from a great conference, just like any other Thursday night," said St. John's coach Dan Grothouse. "I cannot say enough about our kids and the way they weathered the storm, early. We knew the emotions were going to be high, especially with Fort Recovery because we beat them at their place a couple of weeks ago and they came out with fire in their eyes and put us down double digits early.
"I thought we did a great job of hanging in there," continued Grothouse. "We played defense, hit some big shots, I just cannot say enough about the way we hung in there against a great team."
Trailing by seven to start the fourth quarter, Fort Recovery quickly built its lead to nine on a basket by Joanna Snyder. Those were the last points for the Indians for the next three minutes, which allowed St. John's to score 11 straight points, keyed by a pair of three-point shots by Becca Saine, to take a 39-38 lead with 5:15 left.
The lead changed hands three times over the next three minutes until a pair of Zefryn Bryan free throws gave St. John's the lead at 42-41. After a Fort Recovery miss, Brittany Miller hit a three-point field goal, to give her team a 45-41 with 2:13 left on the clock.
Fort Recovery was not quite through as Anne Koesters hit two free throws and Snyder hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 46 with 24 seconds left to play.
After a timeout with 15 seconds on the clock, St. John's had Bryan inbound the ball from the sideline to Lindsy Reindel, who drove to the top of key and got the ball to Victoria Recker, who drove the lane and scored to put her team up by two points with five seconds left.
Fort Recovery got a great look on a three-point shot by Nicole Pottkotter from the right wing as the buzzer sounded, but it came up short.
"We talked about the way their defense was taking away some of offensive options and that they were leaving Becca Saine and Brittany Miller open on the outside and we told them that they needed to step up and they both stepped up," said Grothouse. "A team takes advantage of what is given to them and we did that tonight."
"I thought we came out in the first half and played a great, played great defense," said Fort Recovery coach Doug Bihn. "The difference in the ball game was that we turned the ball over late and we did not keep them off the glass."
Bryan led the way for St. John's with 19 points and 10 rebounds while Reindel chipped in 13 points.
Snyder paced Fort Recovery with 11 points.
Crestview 47, New Bremen 36
It was not exactly the way New Bremen wanted the season to end as it saw a 19-game winning streak end at the hands of the number-one ranked team in the state and defending regional champion.
"This game does not take anything away from our kids," said New Bremen coach Dave McFeely. "I told the kids that it hurts right now, but give it a couple of days and they will realize that they went 21-2, the best record in school history in girls basketball and you were the schools first conference championship. We just came up short on some of our other goals, but only one team is going to win the championship."
The big culprit for New Bremen on this night was its all night struggle offensively and the numbers showed it. The Cardinals hit on just 12-of-33 shots, including, 0-of-7 from the three-point range. The Cardinals' shooting woes extended to the free-throw line were they were 12-of-22.
The one bright spot offensively was the play of Stacy Timmerman, who scored a game-high 21 points, on 7-of-13 shooting and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line.
"Stacy has been our leader offensively for the last three years, the thing is that we just did not shoot the ball very well," said McFeely. "We had so many missed lay-ups, we shot less than 50 percent from the free-throw line and that was the ball game.
"I thought we played a decent ball game other then the shooting," continued McFeely. "I thought our matchups were good, we did a nice job of penetrating, getting the shots we wanted, but we did not shoot the ball very well. We did not have a three-point field goal tonight and we had 13 threes in our last two games."
While the offense struggled, the New Bremen defense kept the Cardinals in the ball game as they allowed Crestview just 14 field goals. The Knights were able to make up for their shooting deficiencies by hit on 18-of-24 from the free-throw line, including 14-of-18 in the fourth quarter.
Crestview took control of the game in the third period outscoring New Bremen 11-7 to take a 27-24 lead after three as the Knights held the Cardinals to just five shots and forced five turnovers.
Jo Thompson led Crestview with 14 points. Melissa Eickholt added 13 points and Kelsey Nedderman chipped in 12.
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