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02-25-04: ’Riders advance, ’Dogs bow out

St. Marys avenges loss to O-G; Celina offense stagnant


WAPAKONETA — It was a mix of emotions for a pair of area Western Buckeye League schools in Division II girls sectional basketball action at Wapakoneta High School on Tuesday night.
St. Marys was jubilant after avenging its only loss of the season with an impressive 50-45 win over Ottawa-Glandorf.
Celina, meanwhile, struggled offensively and saw its season come to an end as it fell to Van Wert, 45-32.
St. Marys now meets up with Van Wert in the sectional championship game Saturday at Wapakoneta at 6:15 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Liberty-Benton Districts.

St. Marys 50, O-G 45
The look on Haley Fannon’s face when she sank a pair of free throws to ice the win for St. Marys probably summed up what was most likely the sentiments of the entire St. Marys squad last night.
After O-G’s Shelly Bellman sank two free throws to cut the Roughriders lead to three points with 17.9 seconds to play, Fannon was fouled with 16.9 seconds left.
The Roughriders senior stepped to the line but missed both opportunities giving the Titans a glimmer of hope.
Kaila Recker’s three-point attempt was off the mark for O-G, though, and the Titans were forced to foul again.
Once again, it was Fannon who strolled to the foul line, but this time she sank both attempts to ice a 50-45 win.
“I was relieved, we shoot free throws all the time in practice, and when I missed those two I knew I could redeem myself,” Fannon said. “O-G is such a good team and they have so much talent, but we’ve worked so hard and bounced back from that loss and it has made us stronger.”
The pressure also appeared to come off St. Marys coach Bruce Brown’s shoulders as well, because it was the Roughriders who picked to play O-G in the sectional opener instead of waiting to possibly meet the Titans at a deeper point in the tournament.
“It feels great, we knew it was going to be a battle, O-G has tremendous athletes,” Brown said. “They played a tremendous game but I’m very proud of my kids and how they hung in there against a tough defense. I thought O-G was one of the best defensive performances we’ve gone against all year. I’m very excited about the fact that we get to move on, I don’t want to quit coaching these kids because they’re a lot of fun to coach.”
Meanwhile, a first-round loss appeared to leave a sour taste in most Titans fans mouths, especially since O-G entered this season with very high expectations.
“It’s unfortunate, this easily could of been a district final game or a regional semifinal, very easily,” Smith said about St. Marys’ choice of selecting the Titans for the tourney opener. “It’s unfortunate, but we told the kids that St. Marys didn’t hesitate going right after us (in the selection process) so obviously they thought they had us right from the start and we needed to prove something else. I don’t know, it’s not very often when you have the first sectional game and only four losses between the teams combined. We went in saying that if we beat the best right away then we’ll have easier sailing, but it just didn’t happen.”
Last nights game definitely lived up to the billing, and it was nip and tuck the whole way with neither side able to build a lead bigger than six points the entire contest.
The first half was a defensive struggle as both squads battled to a 20-20 tie.
O-G probably should have gone into the half ahead by four points, but two big St. Marys defensive plays with less then 30 seconds to play produced four quick points.
Fannon stole a pass when the Titans were hoping to play for one shot, and she was fouled going in for a score and subsequently drained both free throws.
The ‘Riders press then forced another O-G turnover,and it set up Brittany Howell for a bank shot that dropped in just as the first-half buzzer sounded. Howell’s first-half buzzer beater was just one of many big plays made by the Roughriders junior.
Fannon and Krissy Haines scored 18 points in a 20-point first half for St. Marys, but the ‘Riders desperately needed someone to step up as a third scorer to take some pressure off of that tandem.
“We pretty much left the other people open and they never shot,” Smith said. “They don’t take shots, it’s Fannon and Haines that drive them and when Imwalle can get in there they give her a dump down. I thought for the most part we guarded them pretty well.”
Howell answered the call and twice had huge buckets in the third quarter. The first gave St. Marys a 29-28 lead, and the second sent the Roughriders into the fourth quarter up 33-28.
“She played great, she’s been improving all year long. Brittany Howell has really developed over the course of the year as a basketball player,” Brown said. “Obviously against O-G’s size we needed her tonight, and boy did she step up big. She was a big, big factor in our win.”
Howell finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. She was a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and 4-of-5 from the foul line.
O-G fought back, though, and went on a 7-0 tear to grab a 35-33 lead on a Kelsey Elliot bucket.
St. Marys quickly regained a four-point lead on Emily Matthews’ only field goal of the game and two free throws by Howell. O-G cut the lead to two points once again, but St. Marys didn’t surrender the lead the rest of the way.
Brown said the experience of losing a 17-point lead and eventually the game against O-G earlier in the year helped prepare his squad for games such as last nights.
“Huge, since that game we’ve grown in those situations and we’ve had a lot of teams make runs on us in the second half since the first O-G game,” he said. “It’s helped us big time for this tournament.”
Haines led St. Marys with 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting while pulling down seven rebounds and blocking three shots. Fannon chipped in 16 points thanks to 8-of-10 shooting from the foul line.
Fannon wasn’t the only Roughrider to take advantage of the charity stripe, though, as St. Marys finished by making 22-of-31 from the line to help improve its record to 19-1.
Recker led O-G with 11 points while Lynn Sunderhaus had nine points after scoring 28 points in the squads WBL contest earlier this season. Bellman added six points and 10 boards for the Titans who end their season at 17-4.

Van Wert 45, Celina 32
The night cap of last night’s doubleheader at Wapak got off to a slow start, as both sides struggled to find its offensive form in the first quarter.
Van Wert grabbed a 5-4 first-quarter lead in which both sides combined to hit just 3-of-18 from the field.
The Cougars started to break out of their stagnant offensive mold by getting the ball inside to Abbie Clifton.
Clifton was able to notch 11 points while grabbing six rebounds to help Van Wert to a 16-7 half-time lead.
Celina wasn’t as fortunate, though, as the Bulldogs hit just 3-of-16 from the field in the first half while turning the ball over 13 times and not attempting one foul shot.
“I wanted to blame the first quarter or so on the layoff, but we just never got anything going,” said Celina coach Jack Clouse.
The Bulldogs last game prior to Tuesday night was February 12 against Wapakoneta.
“I thought the third quarter there we attacked the basket and did some nice things and got it down to around six,” Clouse said. “We did it for just that little bit there, but we were just flat. I have to take credit for that, I just felt like I didn’t have them ready.”
Celina did rally in the third when Kara Osterfeld hit consecutive buckets to pull the ‘Dogs to within seven points at 18-13.
Later in the third, Osterfeld hit a three-pointer to cut Van Wert’s lead to 24-18, and when Kelli Williams put home an offensive rebound on the following possession, the ‘Dogs trailed by just four points.
That’s as close as Celina would get the rest of the way, though, and when Clifton scored six of the first eight points in the fourth quarter, Van Wert was in control with a 34-23 lead.
“That was one of the things we stressed, getting the ball inside to Abbie,” said Van Wert coach Roland Alvarez. “They didn’t really have anyone that could match up with her.
“Defensively we did some nice things, and I thought we were able to keep them out of the paint as far as in the first half,” Alvarez continued. “The score was 16-7 (in the first half), not much excitement to that, but they came out in the second half and made their run and we called timeout and kind of settled down again and played some better defense again and that was key.”
Clifton finished with 24 points on 6-of-13 shooting while grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking three shots.
“There’s not a lot you can do, you want to collapse on her the best you can and we really didn’t get that done,” Clouse said.
Neither team shot a good percent from the field, as Van Wert finished at 26 percent (11-for-43) while Celina finished at 24 percent (10-for-42).
Van Wert really benefited from the foul line where it made 23-of-32 compared to 10-of-14 for Celina.
Osterfeld finished with 12 points while Williams added eight points for the Bulldogs who end their season at 12-9. Allie Clifton joined her sister in double figures by adding 11 points and seven rebounds for Van Wert who upped its record to 14-7.


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