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The Daily



12-12-03: Cougars rally for victory over ’Dogs


Van Wert overcame a 16-point deficit in the third quarter and hit enough free throws down the stretch as the Cougars defeated Celina, 64-60 on Thursday night in a Western Buckeye League contest.
The Cougars improves to 3-1 on the season (1-1 WBL) while the Bulldogs fall to 2-3 on the year (0-2 WBL).
Celina may have played its best and worst quarters in the same game against Van Wert, the problem for Bulldogs fans was that the bad quarter outweighed the good quarter.
The good quarter for Celina came in the first half after Van Wert built an early 13-4 advantage leading to a Bulldogs timeout with 2:27 left in the opening quarter.
From that point on, it was all Celina until the halftime horn sounded 9:27 later. Celina senior Kelli Williams sparked the Bulldogs run collecting eight points in a 10-1 run to close the first quarter tying the score, 14-14.
Celina carried the momentum into the second quarter as Williams, freshman Betsy Hone and Andrea Bryan paced the Green and White attack which outscored Van Wert 19-3 in the second eight minutes of action. Williams added six more points in the second stanza while Hone and Bryan added four points apiece.
Van Wert committed 16 first-half turnovers and only hit 1-of-10 field goals after opening the game 5-of-5. While the Cougars struggled mightily after the quick start, Celina finished the first half 13-of-24 from the field leading to the double digit advantage at halftime.
As good as Celina was in the second quarter, a third-quarter implosion allowed Van Wert to get right back in the game.
The Cougars began to limit the costly turnovers in the third quarter and as a result were able to get the towering combo of Abbie (6-2) and Allie Clifton (5-10). The Clifton sisters were contained to just 11 first-half points but the duo got the offense back on track in the third quarter. The Cliftons combined for 19 points in the third stanza and the Cougars were down just three points with one quarter to play.
“They didn’t do anything different to get back in the game to be honest,” said Celina head coach Jack Clouse. “We’re a young team that came out in the third quarter and didn’t respond when things weren’t going well for us. We dropped our heads and I think that limited experience plays a big role in that. It was more mental than anything.”
“We talked at halftime about focusing on the way that we played early in the first quarter and do that again in the third quarter,” said Alvarez. “We were aggressive and started to play our game and that got us back into it. We got back in the game quicker than I thought that we would.”
With the Clifton’s controlling play in the paint, Van Wert guard Lindsey Lybold began to hit the open looks from the perimeter leading to a 14-point effort including a short jumper giving the Cougars a 54-52 lead with 4:45 to play in the game.
Van Wert continued to hold a slim lead, no larger than three points until Williams, who had battled foul trouble the whole second half, tied the score at 60-60 on an acrobatic three-point play.
On the Cougars’ ensuing possession, Williams fouled out of the game on a touch foul call and Allie Clifton hit one-of-two from the line to give Van Wert a 61-60 lead with 47 seconds left to play.
A missed jumper and a Celina turnover on its next two possessions led to a trio of Van Wert free throws which put the game away late for the Cougars.
The Celina loss overshadowed a stellar performance by Hone who nearly kept the Bulldogs in the game all by herself in the second half. Hone scored eight points in the first half, but finished the contest with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and 5-of-9 from the free-throw line.
“I watched her play once this year and I didn’t expect her to have the type of game tonight that she had,” lauded Alvarez. “She’s going to be a nice player because she can shoot from the outside and drive to the basket. We expected to see points from Williams, Bryan and Kara Osterfeld, but 23 from Hone was unexpected.”
“I thought that Hone was a very big positive and she carried us in the second half,” pointed out Clouse.
Williams added 18 points and a game-high seven rebounds for Celina despite the foul trouble.
“We look so impressive at times during a game and then not so good at other times,” acknowledged Clouse. “What we have to do is be able to play impressive on more of a consistent basis. We need to deal better with the bad times.”
Allie Clifton had 18 points to lead Van Wert while sister Abbie contributed 17 points in addition to Lybold’s 14 markers.
Celina is back in action on Monday at home against Ansonia.


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