Friday, February 11th, 2011
St. Marys wins WBL crown
By Ryan Hines
VAN WERT - The only way that Van Wert could have given St. Marys its first Western Buckeye League loss of the season on Thursday night was if the Roughriders' girls basketball team wasn't focused and ready to play.
That didn't happen.
St. Marys buried Van Wert with a great start and the Roughriders clinched a share of the WBL title with a 46-24 win over the Cougars on Thursday night.
It's the sixth WBL championship for St. Marys all-time and the first since a four-way tie during the 2005-06 season.
"It feels good to win a share of the WBL title and we have an opportunity to go into next Thursday with no pressure. Now it's just a matter if we want to share it or have it all for ourselves," said St. Marys' head coach Kelly Fulmer. "Girls deserve it for all of the hard work that they have put in."
The Roughriders (16-2, 8-0 WBL) can win their first outright WBL crown since 2001-02 with a victory over Shawnee (15-3, 7-1 WBL) on Thursday. Shawnee and Bath (14-3, 7-1 WBL) are currently tied for second in the WBL standings, a game back of St. Marys.
"We're really happy to win the league, because we've worked really hard to accomplish it, but right now it's only a share of the league title and I think that all of us want it to be an outright championship," said St. Marys senior Rachel Wale.
St. Marys put Van Wert (5-13, 1-7 WBL) in an early hole with a dominant start to the game. The Roughriders used a stingy defense and a height advantage on offense for a 15-2 lead after the first quarter. St. Marys' DeeDee Sudhoff hit a 15-foot jumper with eight seconds to play in the first quarter, but all of the other Roughriders' points came within two feet of the basket.
"I think that our girls were pumped up to play right from the start and our defense was strong," said Fulmer. "We always want to use our two 6-0 post players and they did a good job of working together with our high-low offense."
While St. Marys was relentless attacking the Van Wert post defense, the Cougars shot just 1-of-8 from the field in the first quarter. It didn't get much better offensively for the Cougars in the second quarter as they hit on 2-of-12 from the floor and faced a 30-6 deficit at halftime.
St. Marys' post duo of Erika Thornsberry and Jo Steva frustrated Van Wert throughout the first half of play by combining for 20 points and nine rebounds. Thornsberry finished with a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds while Steva had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Van Wert put up a mini rally to start the second half as Ashley Mohr had four points in an 8-0 run that helped the Cougars close the gap to 30-14 midway through the third quarter.
The Cougars never threatened the rest of the way as the Roughriders pushed their lead back over 20 points by the end of the third quarter and maintained a 20-plus advantage for all of the fourth quarter.
St. Marys has a nonleague game on Tuesday against Marion Local in Maria Stein before Thursday's matchup against Shawnee.
The Western Buckeye League girls basketball standings.
Team WBL Overall
St. Marys 8-0 16-2
Shawnee 7-1 15-3
Bath 7-1 14-3
Celina 4-4 10-8
Wapakoneta 4-4 10-8
Ottawa-Glandorf 4-4 6-12
Kenton 3-5 12-6
Van Wert 1-7 5-13
Elida 1-7 3-15
Defiance 1-7 2-15