Marion Local turns focus
By ROBB HEMMELGARN
ST. MARYS — Last evening in St. Marys, the home crowd
bid farewell to a group of four seniors as they took the floor
for the final time in their careers at McBroom Gymnasium.
Emily Matthews, Dani Johnsman, Krissy Haines, and Haley Fannon
all started for the Blue and Gold and a couple of hours later,
closed their careers on their home territory with a 59-42 win
over the Marion Local Flyers.
Following the victory, which pushed the Roughriders to 18-1
on the season, head coach Bruce Brown had nothing but praise
for his four leaders.
“This was an emotionally-charged atmosphere from the start
tonight,” said Brown. “I hope our fans in the stands
realize how fortunate they’ve been to have watched a group
as outstanding as our four seniors have been for our program.
They’re a fun and team-oriented group that has been a
great pleasure to coach.”
The Roughriders made quick work of their counterparts from the
Midwest Athletic Conference, scoring the first six points of
Rachel Thobe answered with a three-pointer to cut the St. Marys
lead in half, but the Roughriders fired back with a bucket each
from Haines and sophomore Kerri Imwalle.
Trailing 10-3, the Flyers pulled to within four points when
sophomore Maria Moeller drained a three-pointer, but another
bucket from Haines gave her team a 12-6 lead with 1:31 left
in the stanza, an advantage they would take to the bench at
the end of the period.
For the quarter, the Flyers hit just 2-of-13 shots from the
field and went 0-for-9 from two-point range.
The Roughriders’ six-point advantage ballooned to 11 points
at intermission as Haines led the home team’s charge with
11 counters in the first two quarters. Moeller led the Flyers
with five points, however as a team, the visitors were still
anemic from the field, hitting only five of their 22 field goal
attempts in the first 16 minutes.
“I told the girls at halftime to expect Marion to come
out and press in the second half,” remarked Brown. “We
held a good lead, but I wanted to make sure we didn’t
St. Marys took a couple of minutes to adjust to the Flyers press,
but at the 6:13 mark, Imwalle hit a free throw, giving her team
a 12-point lead. From there it was back and forth until consecutive
buckets from Moeller and sophomore Jenna Barhorst, pulled the
Flyers to within seven points at 30-23 with 1:50 left in the
Imwalle connected on four of the quarter’s final six points
in the last 1:12, and the Roughriders took a 34-26 lead to the
bench at the end of three quarters of action.
The final period commenced to a chant of “Let’s
Go Flyers” from a conglomerate of Celina Bulldog basketball
players, but just 30 seconds into the quarter, Imwalle silenced
the cheers with two more of her 18 points.
The Flyers began to look in the paint to Barhorst on the offensive
end of the floor, and the decision paid off as the 6-2 post
player dumped in four straight points, pulling Marion Local
to within seven points at 37-30.
Haines took the ensuing inbounds pass and sailed coast to coast,
pushing St. Marys back in charge by nine points, 39-30 with
just over six minutes remaining. For the next 90 seconds the
Flyers refused to die, cutting their deficit to four points
with just under five minutes remaining.
That’s as close as the visitors would come however, as
smooth, driving layups and timely free-throw shooting helped
St. Marys build its lead to 17 points over the remaining minutes
of action. The Roughriders picked up seven of their final nine
points at the charity stripe as they were able to hold off the
defending Division IV state champions by a final of 59-42.
“St. Marys is an outstanding ball club, but I’m
proud of the way the girls played them hard and didn’t
give up,” explained Flyer coach Treva Fortkamp, whose
team closes the regular season at 15-5. “We could’ve
easily folded up the tents and lost by a lot more, but we battled
hard to the end and lost to a very strong team. We have a little
lay off now and it’s time to regroup and start our second
season in tournament.”
The Roughriders close their regular season tomorrow evening
at Lima Central Catholic, while the Flyers are idle until their
sectional tournament contest scheduled for Feb. 28th against
the winner of the St. Henry Redskins and Fort Recovery Indians
who play on Feb. 24th.