By Marc Tobias
FINDLAY — St. Marys was forced to battle from behind all night in its Division II district championship game against Elida, and it may have eventually wore the Roughriders down as they lost, 49-44.
Elida went into the fourth quarter up by nine points thanks to an offensive stick back by the Bulldogs Carla Warren with two seconds left in the third quarter.
From that point on the Bulldogs played keep away in an attempt to exhaust as much of the clock as possible to seal the win.
“We weren’t really holding the ball we were running through our pattern looking for an open shot. It just so happened to take time off the clock,” said Elida coach Sue Skinner. “Sometimes that comes back to get you, so we weren’t thinking stall we were thinking about getting a good open shot.”
Despite Skinner saying her squad wasn’t trying to stall, Elida took just one field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, a break away layup that Emily Warren converted.(Continued from page 1B)
With St. Marys still trailing by 10 points with under three minutes to play, the Roughriders began fouling in an attempt to get back in the game.
It started to pay off when Dani Johnsman cut the Roughriders deficit to six when she converted a three-point play off an offensive rebound with 1:41 to play.
Elida hit one free throw and then a Krissy Haines basket followed by two free throws from Johnsman had the lead down to 42-38 with just over a minute to play.
The lead fluctuated between four and seven points for the next minute, until Haines finally got it down to a one possession game at 47-44 on a drive with seven seconds remaining.
The īRiders fouled Elida’s Jenna Jackson, but the Bulldogs point guard stepped up and canned both free throws to clinch the victory.
Elida converted 11-of-18 free throws in the final quarter, and 17-of-29 attempts from the line for the game.
St. Marys dug itself a hole early, as Elida jumped out to a 10-0 lead as the īDogs defense had the Roughriders flustered the entire first quarter.
Brittany Howell finally broke through and scored the first points for St. Marys on a bucket with 1:00 left to play in the opening quarter.
St. Marys finished the first quarter by making 1-of-7 from the field with five turnovers.
The Roughriders never had a lead in the first half and battled from behind the entire night.
“Anytime you fall behind in a big game like that it makes it more difficult,” said St. Marys coach Bruce Brown. “The way the tournament is set up you go Thursday-Saturday, so we didn’t get as much time to prepare for their pressure and we were out of sync there early. I think that was a big factor in the game.”
Most of the īRiders struggles can probably be attributed to a great defensive scheme from Elida.
The Bulldogs utilized full-court pressure all game and for the most part forced someone besides Haines to break the pressure.
“We focused on taking Haines no matter where she was, by covering her up, because the last time we played them she went right through our press,” Skinner said. “She’s a great player, and our kids did a good job of finding her this time.”
Haines was still able to make her presence felt by scoring 25 points and grabbing six rebounds, but Elida was able to shut down the rest of the Roughriders.
Haley Fannon and Kerri Imwalle who had been viable offensive options during the season found the going tough on Saturday, as Elida’s 2-3 zone focused on stopping both players.
Fannon rarely got an open look from three-point range and finished with three points on 1-of-8 shooting and Imwalle only attempted one field goal and finished with two points.
“They played their 2-3 that they’ve been playing all year, but they did a real nice job of shading it towards some of the people that have been scoring for us,” said Brown. “I didn’t think we attacked it as aggressively as we needed to, but again that comes from us not having a whole lot of time to prepare and get ready for the game.”
“We worked very hard in practice guarding their three keys (Haines, Fannon and Imwalle) and having everybody else help and force them to have somebody else beat us if they were going to beat us,” Skinner said.
After Haines’ 25 points, Johnsman was next with seven for the Roughriders. No other St. Marys player scored more than three points.
St. Marys grabbed a brief lead at 18-17 when Haines scored to start the second quarter, but that was the only lead for the īRiders.
St. Marys then trailed at 25-24, but Elida finished the third quarter on a 10-2 run.
“When you get behind as far as we did it takes a lot of energy to get back up,” Brown said. “The girls didn’t give up and got back in the game, but Elida responded and they played a great game.”
Amanda Suever led Elida with 13 points while Elise Jenkins and Jackson added 11 points. Jenkins also grabbed nine rebounds.
St. Marys ends a terrific season at 22-2 while Elida improves to 17-7 and moves on to face Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in the Ontario Regional semifinal.