By Ryan Hines
ST. HENRY -- It's a good thing that a dismal shooting night didn't bother Celina's Betsy Hone.
Hone started just 2-of-14 shooting from the field, but ended up making the biggest play of the game by hitting a fadeaway jumper with seven seconds left in the game to give Celina the lead for good in a 59-57 Bulldogs win over St. Henry.
Hone finished the game 3-of-15 from the floor, but made 6-of-9 from the free-throw line to finish with 12 points, but none were bigger than her final two points.
"Betsy has a shooter's mentality and that's good," said Celina head coach Brian Stetler. "She doesn't let things bother her because for us to be successful as a team, we need her to be ready to shoot the ball at any time and in tight games. She had a tough night shooting, but she wasn't afraid to shoot the ball at the end."
"I saw the ball coming off the back of the rim and the coaches tell us to get to the ball and put it back up and I was able to put it back in," said Hone. "Those are my type of shots, the five-footers while fading away. Confidence wasn't a problem for me, I take it one shot at a time and focus on every shot." Trailing 57-56, Stetler called a timeout to draw up an inbounds play and it worked to perfection as Liz Homan found herself wide open under the basket and was fouled.
Homan, already 4-of-4 from the charity stripe to that point in the game, missed both free tosses, but Hone chased down the loose ball and drained the short fadeaway jumper on the baseline for a 58-57 Celina lead with 7.1 seconds left on the clock.
St. Henry's inbounds pass went to midcourt with a streaking Redskin open on the way to the basket, but the pass was off the mark and resulted in a turnover, the 19th of the game for the home squad.
Celina's Amy Harner picked up the loose ball and was fouled with 1.3 seconds left in the game. Harner put the Bulldogs up two points at 59-57 by making the first free throw, but missed the second attempt as time expired on St. Henry.
"What a game," said St. Henry assistant coach Mike Alt, who was replacing Charlie Maier as head coach on the bench due to complications from eye surgery. "Charlie was probably jumping up and down on the couch listening to this game on the radio. We played well enough to win, but we missed some opportunities down the stretch of the game and Celina came out on top.
"Charlie called me at work today at 2 p.m. and told me that he was going to be out for a while because he has a tear in his retina (part of the eye)."
Alt was and will be the head coach for the Redskins until Charlie Maier returns from complications from eye surgery. Alt said that Maier mentioned he will return likely in approximately 10 days.
Brenda Hemmelgarn led all scorers for St. Henry with 27 points while Kayla Lefeld added 10 points. Brittany Post also played well for the Redskins with seven points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
St. Henry led the entire first half behind 65-percent shooting, but 11 turnovers kept Celina within striking distance, down just three points at halftime.
Celina started the second half with a 13-3 run to take as much as a seven-point advantage late in the third quarter before St. Henry closed the gap in the fourth quarter behind the hot hand of Hemmelgarn.
For the second straight game, though, Celina made enough plays at the end of the game to come away with the win. The Bulldogs, now 3-3 on the season, defeated St. Marys last week on a game-winning jumper from Kelsey Waterman, from nearly the exact same spot on the court in the final few seconds.
"We've won two straight close games and that's big for us because we struggled winning the close ones early in the season," said Stetler. "Hopefully we can continue to improve and play our best by the end of the season."
"This is a huge win for us because now we're back at .500 for the season at 3-3 and we just want to carry it on throughout the rest of the season," said Hone. "We're starting to find ourselves and what we're capable of."
Celina will look to make it three wins in a row at home on Thursday, Dec. 29th at the Fieldhouse while St. Henry (2-4) looks to get back on track this Thursday evening by hosting Lehman.