Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Cavaliers advance to district title game
Division III District at Kalida
By Randy Bruns
KALIDA - Defense and rebounding certainly aren't the most glamorous parts of a basketball game but they sure are handy come tournament time, and the Coldwater Cavaliers proved that on Thursday night.
The Cavaliers pounded the boards all evening long and used a tenacious pressure defense to give the Delta Panthers fits before coming away with a 62-47 victory in the Division III district semifinal.
Coldwater, now 15-8, advances to Saturday's 7 p.m. district final against the Archbold Blue Streaks, who defeated Lima Central Catholic 40-30 in Thursday's second district semifinal game. Archbold is 23-0 this year and finished ranked second in the state in the final Associated Press poll.
Delta ends its season with a 17-6 mark.
The Panthers took an early 5-2 lead but then went into an extended dry spell and the Cavaliers took advantage by reeling off 10 unanswered points to end the first quarter. After the Rams hit a pair of baskets to start the second period, the Cavaliers clamped down defensively and put together a 17-4 run that gave them a commanding 29-13 advantage at halftime.
Coldwater was dominant on the boards in the first half as it snared 22 rebounds, 12 of which came on the offensive end. Delta had only eight rebounds during the first two quarters.
"Something we've talked about all year is that with our lack of size we have to be aggressive on the boards," said Coldwater's coach Nick Fisher. "The girls have really bought into that, and I know we had a major advantage at halftime."
Delta's coach Ryan Ripke was impressed with the Cavaliers' tenacity on the glass.
"They crashed the boards extremely hard like we knew they would," stated Ripke. "We weren't able to complete the defensive stops by getting rebounds and that ended up killing us. They crashed so hard and I'm trying to think if anybody we've faced has done it like that and I don't think anybody has."
Though they had a comfortable bulge, the Cavaliers found out that they could not coast in the second half. The Cavaliers' lead, which ballooned to 19 points on two separate occasions, was whittled down to 12 points three times midway through the final frame.
Each time, though, someone came up big for Coldwater and built the lead back up, as Meg Muhlenkamp, Brooke Welsch, and Kiya Dues all gave the Orange and Black an extra cushion down the stretch.
"That's what you need at tournament time," said Fisher. "You have to have people step up and hit big shots when the other team is making a run, and you also have to shoot well from the free-throw line. I thought we did both."
Coldwater, which used nine players to just six for Delta, used its depth to continue its pressure defense throughout the game and forced 27 turnovers.
"With the depth on our bench and the lack of depth on their bench, we felt that was something we could take advantage of," commented Fisher. "Everybody's in shape at this point in the season, but when you're playing against relentless pressure, I think it starts to wear on you."
Three seniors had big nights for the Cavaliers. Courtney Wellman led all scorers with 16 points, Carly Schlater chipped in with 14 points and Larissa Goubeaux hauled in 10 rebounds.
"It's such a pleasure to coach her," said Fisher of the hard-working Goubeaux. "She doesn't look to shoot the basketball. She wants to pass the ball, rebound and play great defense. She's just a real workhorse for us and she has been throughout her career."