By Bruce Monnin
COLDWATER -- The Minster Lady Wildcats made 10 of their 17 field-goal attempts, hit five out of seven three pointers and outrebounded the Marion Local Flyers by a 10-5 margin in the first half on Saturday night.
The amazing thing was that, despite all the good statistics, the Wildcats still trailed by four points at the intermission.
That's because Marion Local countered by shooting 82-percent from the floor in the first half and 76 percent for the game to defeat Minster, 68-48, and advance to regional action with their record on the season still unblemished.
The Flyers jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter with all 17 points coming from their inside-outside duo of Maria Moeller and Jenna Barhorst.
"We really wanted to look inside, get the ball to Barhorst and spread the offense to let Maria have a chance to penetrate," explained Marion Local head coach Treva Fortkamp. Five straight points from Danae Spieles reduced the Wildcat deficit, but Holly Fortkamp hit a big three pointer in the last few seconds to give Marion Local a 20-12 lead after one quarter.
The Flyers scored the first eight points of the second period to extend their lead to 28-12. Minster fired back with their own 10-0 run, including three-point bombs from both Spieles and Kirby Boeke.
Two baskets by Kelli Stucke brought the lead back up to 10 points for Marion Local, but the Wildcats finished the half with the last six points to reduce the Flyer lead to four points, 32-28.
"We had that 16-point lead, then we had three or four turnovers in a row and they hit some big threes," stated Fortkamp. "Spieles had 14 points at the half. I talked to Maria at halftime and told her I didn't want to see her hit another three-pointer in the game."
Karen Brackman scored the first basket of the second half to bring the Wildcats within two points, but they would never come any closer the rest of the game.
With Barhorst back in the game after sitting out most of the second quarter due to foul trouble, Marion Local got their inside-outside combination going again. The Flyers went on a game-deciding 17-4 run, with seven of the points coming from the foul line after dribble penetration in the lane.
The teams exchanged baskets to end the third quarter with the Flyers leading 54-38. The fourth period saw the Marion Local lead steadily grow until the game ended with a 68-48 final score.
"Offensively, we really never got in the flow, but I still think 48 points is enough to score and win," stated Minster head coach Nann Stechschulte. "Defensively, we couldn't stop them. That's the most points we allowed a team to score since 1998 in the state finals. They just had too many weapons."
"The girls wanted it. They played hard," complimented Fortkamp. "They played their hearts out."
Minster's season ends with an overall record of 18-5.
"I felt from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, this team improved as much as any I've coached," summarized Stechschulte. "For losing five seniors and four starters, I was really proud of an 18-5 record with the difficulty of our schedule, especially the teams that we played on the road."
With the win, Marion Local improves its record to 23-0 and continues on the road to Columbus. The Flyers will now play Thursday night at 6:15 p.m. in the regional semifinals at Vandalia-Butler High School against Franklin-Monroe.
MARION LOCAL PRESALE INFORMATION -- Tickets for Thursday's game at the Student Activity Center at Vandalia-Butler High School will be on sale tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. in the high school office, on Tuesday during the noon hour at the middle school, on Wednesday during the noon hour at the high school athletic office and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to noon at the athletic office. No tickets will be sold after noon on Thursday.
Presale tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for students and all tickets at the Student Activity Center are $6.