a By MARC TOBIAS
OTTAWA — St. Marys’ hopes for a Western Buckeye
League title took a crushing blow last night at Robert D. Hermiller
Gymnasium, as Ottawa-Glandorf dealt the Lady Roughriders their
first defeat of the season, 61-54 in a double-overtime thriller.
Everything was set up for St. Marys to knock off the defending
WBL champion Titans.
O-G star Stacey Verhoff suffered a knee injury and was unable
to play, as was Katie White, another Titans starter.
St. Marys jumped ahead early 21-4, and twice held a 17-point
lead over an O-G team that lost another player during the game
due to injury.
The ’Riders defense completely shut down O-G’s offense
the entire first half, as the Titans didn’t score their
first field goal until the 7:45 mark of the second quarter.
Meanwhile, St. Marys standout Krissy Haines torched the nets
for 16 first-half points to help build a 23-10 halftime lead
for the Roughriders.
Yet knocking off a team that has the experience and grit of
O-G isn’t supposed to be easy, and when the Titans started
to crawl back into the game early in the third quarter the pressure
began to shift squarely to the shoulders of St. Marys.
Still, Emily Matthews had two shots in the final 10 seconds
of regulation to end the game and put St. Marys in a great position
for the league title, but both were off target and the game
headed to overtime.
In the first extra period, O-G’s Shelly Bellman sank a
free throw to put the Titans on top 52-50 with less than 15
seconds to play, but Haines was able to score two of her game-high
31 points on a beautiful baseline drive with five seconds left
to send the game to a second overtime.
It was all O-G and Lynn Sunderhaus in that second extra stanza,
though, as the Titans outscored St. Marys 7-2 for the improbable
“I don’t know if you can put a title on it, but
it’s just kind of the heart of a champion. We have a number
on the banner that says 2003 (WBL champions), and we want to
make sure we put on a 2004 and this is a big step towards that,”
said O-G coach Lori Smith.
If Smith’s squad is able to lay claim to another title,
then Sunderhaus should be allowed to hang it in the rafters.
Sunderhaus finished with 28 points, and single-handedly brought
back the Titans.
O-G was awful in the first half when it connected on just three-of-17
shots, but Sunderhaus turned that around in the third quarter
when she scored 11 points in an 18-6 third quarter for the Titans.
Sunderhaus then scored consecutive baskets to start the fourth
to put O-G on top 33-29, and give the Titans their first lead
since they led at 1-0. Sunderhaus finished by scoring 26 of
her 28 points in the second half and overtime.
“They couldn’t stop us, the pick and roll was working,”
Sunderhaus said. “We just believed in ourselves, and we
can do whatever we put our minds to and we did it.”
As the Titans confidence grew, it was the ‘Riders that
were pressing to find their offense.
After shredding O-G’s 2-3 and 3-2 zones in the first half,
the Titans switched to a man-to-man defense and some light fullcourt
pressure to try and slow the ‘Riders, and it paid off.
St. Marys connected on just nine-of-28 shots (32 percent) in
the second half.
Bellman, meanwhile, wasn’t able to shut down Haines, but
the easy buckets that the St. Marys star got in the first half
started to turn into hard earned points.
“We were just trying to find something that worked,”
Smith said. “We knew when she’s not in rhythm they’re
not in rhythm.”
Haines connected on 10-of-18 from the field while the rest of
the Roughriders combined to make just 6-of-26 shots.
“I thought maybe we rushed some shots in the second overtime
and took some ill-advised shots, but they’re high school
kids and that will happen,” said St. Marys coach Bruce
St. Marys also had difficulty getting Haines the ball around
the paint where she was very effective in the first half.
“It would’ve been nice to get her (Haines) the ball
in that situation (overtime), but I can’t fault the effort
of the kids and I think everybody’s intent was to do what’s
best to help our team win the game,” Brown said.
Haines was also strong on the glass with 12 rebounds.
The Roughriders did help themselves by getting to the free-throw
line 37 times, but they made just 21 of those attempts for 57
Bellman finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Titans.
Both squads now stand at 9-1, with O-G 4-0 in the WBL and St.
“They’re competitive kids, I don’t have to
tell them anything, they’ll bounce back,” Brown
said of his squad. “They’re great kids and hard
workers and I’m not worried about their effort down the
road, they’ll come back and compete.”