Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
Free throws help push Celina over St. Henry
By Ryan Hines
Celina's Danielle Bihn, 23, goes up for two points in front of a St. Henry defen. . .
ST. HENRY - Despite shooting 51 percent from the charity stripe through the first five games of the season, Celina's girls basketball coach Brian Stetler was still convinced that his Bulldogs were capable of being a good free-throw shooting team.
The Bulldogs proved Stetler to be correct on Tuesday night as Celina hit 19-of-24 at the free-throw line (79 percent) to preserve a 54-41 victory over St. Henry.
Celina led by double-digits several times throughout the game, but St. Henry's Kelly Siefring hit back-to-back buckets in the fourth quarter to pull the Redskins to within five points with 2:40 left in the contest. The five-point deficit was the closest that St. Henry had been since early in the second quarter.
After the Bulldogs missed a shot, St. Henry had a chance to cut into the five-point deficit but Celina forced a turnover and then buried eight-of-eight at the free-throw line in the final 2:32 of the game to seal the win. Emily Bihn hit a pair of freebies before Kylee Bader connected on six straight free throws. Celina was 11-of-13 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
"We were down five points late in the game with a chance to get closer, but Celina pressured us and we turned the ball over and then they did a good job of making us pay at the free-throw line," said St. Henry's head coach Jeff Roessner.
Stetler was relieved to see his team convert at the free-throw line with the game still hanging in the balance.
"I have talked all year that I have confidence that we can hit free throws and I think that we proved that tonight," said Stetler. "I would predict this team to be 65-70 percent at the free-throw line and we showed we are capable of that type of shooting. The biggest thing is that we made them late in the game to help us extend the lead. Kylee hit some big ones late."
Ashley Heitkamp's seven first-quarter points helped St. Henry hang with Celina early as the Redskins trailed just 12-9 after the first eight minutes of action.
Hillary Heiby and Katie Stahl spearheaded Celina's 17-8 advantage in the second quarter as the Bulldogs went into halftime with a 29-17 lead. Heiby had five points and Stahl added four points during the second stanza. It was a challenging first half for the Redskins, who shot just 7-of-25 from the field (28 percent) and had 15 turnovers.
"We got off to another slow start tonight in the first half and we have to do a better job of not falling behind," said Roessner. "We were tentative with the ball in the first half and Celina was aggressive on defense and getting their hands on a lot of balls. The thing that I was most disappointed in during the first half is that it seemed like a layup drill for Celina. They had two-on-one and three-on-two it seemed the whole first half."
Celina finished the game with a trio of players in double figures. Stahl had her third double-double of the season with a game-high 14 points and 12 rebounds while Heiby and Bader contributed 10 points apiece.
Siefring had nine points to lead St. Henry while Heitkamp and Ally Mikesell had seven points each.
The Bulldogs are back in action again on Tuesday with a home game against Coldwater.