By Ryan Hines
LIMA -- Facing a 12-point halftime deficit, Celina rallied back in the third quarter and held on in the fourth quarter for a 47-45 upset victory over Shawnee at Lappin Gymnasium on Thursday night in Western Buckeye League action.
Celina erased the 12-point halftime deficit by outscoring Shawnee 17-4 in the third period to take a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter in front of a stunned Indians crowd.
"It really was a game of two different halfs," said Celina head coach Brian Stetler. "We had some good practices coming into tonight's game but we played a pretty bad first half. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I'm sure glad that we were able to turn that around in the third quarter. This team has capabilities and we're just trying to keep them playing to their potential.
"I think in the second half that we saw some of that potential come out," continued Stetler. "We hung in there and played hard and did what they had to do to get the win. We didn't do anything major differently, we just did the things that we do in practice to be successful."
Shawnee beat Celina 38-30 in the championship game of the OVISCO Classic on Nov. 26, but the Bulldogs improved to 4-4 overall and 2-1 in the WBL following Thursday's surprising win. Shawnee loses for just the second time this season (7-2) and for the first time in league play (2-1). "We never got down on ourselves after the tough start, we hung in there and made some big plays along the way," said Stetler. "We definitely wanted to win this game after they beat us at the OVISCO. This is a big win beating a good team on the road, but we need to continue this kind of play because we have a tough schedule left ahead of us. On any given night in the WBL, any team can beat anybody. Shawnee had the front spot in the WBL at this point in the season and that's what makes this win so big."
"We played a horrible second half after playing well in the first half," said Shawnee head coach Jeff Heistan. "We didn't come out with any fire in the second half and scored just four points in the third quarter. We didn't come out and execute very well in the second half and Celina deserved to win the game."
Shawnee looked to have the game well in hand after jumping out to a 28-16 lead at halftime.
Celina's offense finally came alive in the third quarter behind the play of Betsy Hone and Liz Homan. Hone scored eight of her game-high 18 points in the third stanza while Homan added four points during the game-changing third period.
"Betsy has proven that she's a gamer and she hung in there for us after a tough start (Hone started 0-for-6 to start the game) and I like to see the leadership that she showed, especially in the third quarter," said Stetler. "She scored for us and dished out some pretty nice passes too getting her teammates the ball in positions that they could score from."
"We gave her some looks that we shouldn't have given her, but she just decided to take over and she's the type of player that can do that," said Hestan.
Kelsey Waterman scored just two points in the game, but they were big because they gave Celina its first lead since 5-4 with the Bulldogs on top 33-32 entering the fourth quarter on a short jumper by the freshman.
Laura Link scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter and Celina withstood a late Shawnee charge for the win.
Shawnee retook the lead at 41-39 when Whitney Risner hit a trey, but Amy Harner tied the game and Kinsey Schumann hit her only field goal of the game to give the Bulldogs a 43-41 lead. Link then extended the Bulldogs' lead to 46-41 following a successful three-point play with just under a minute left to play in the game.
A late Amber Heistan three-pointer brought Shawnee as close as 47-45 but Celina's defense closed the door on the Indians' final comeback attempt.
With 8.8 seconds left on the clock, Celina denied the ball to Heistan and Shawnee's Lauren Kent misfired on the Indians' last shot as Homan pulled down the rebound securing the Bulldogs' win.
In addition to Hone's game-high 18 points, Homan added a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs' cause.
Heistan, who battled foul trouble for most of the game, led Shawnee with 12 points on just 5-of-16 shotting from the field.
Celina is back in action again on Saturday for a nonleague game hosting Midwest Athletic Conference representative Minster for a 1 p.m. start.