By Mark Ruschau
MARIA STEIN -- The Marion Local Flyers kept pace in the Midwest Athletic Conference girls title chase Thursday as they used a solid defensive effort to defeat the Coldwater Cavaliers, 57-42, at the Hangar.
With the win, the Flyers (12-4) improve to 6-1 in the MAC and remain in a first-place tie with the New Knoxville Rangers with two weeks left on the league schedule. The loss eliminates Coldwater (12-4) from conference title contention as it falls to 4-3.
The Marion defense was suffocating through the first three and a half periods. Over that time span the Cavaliers were just 8-of-30 from the floor and they committed 18 turnovers. For the game Coldwater shot just 12-of-38 from the floor, including just 4-of-22 from two-point range. Coldwater needed 60 possessions to score their 42 points.
The Flyers did a great job on Coldwater leading scorer Kendra Robbins as they held her to just one field goal and three points in the first three periods.
"We talked before the game about coming out and getting a good start and I thought we did a great job of doing that," said Marion Local coach Treva Fortkamp. "I thought we did a fine job defensively tonight. The score might not show it at the end but for three and a half quarters we did an excellent job of playing defense. "Our game plan coming in was to take Kendra Robbins out of the game and to deny (guard Tasha) Stucke the ball and make someone else handle the ball. When we did get beat defensively out front we got great help. Credit the girls, they played their hearts out and they deserved this win because they played hard."
The Marion defense was on display from the opening tap as it held the Cavaliers scoreless for their six possessions and with out a field goal for over four minutes and just three for the opening eight minutes.
Marion came out strong on the offensive end as well as it scored the first six points and took an 18-8 lead after the first period. In the opening period, Marion was 7-of-14 from the floor as all five starters chipped in at least two points.
Megan Barhorst took a feed from Maria Moeller for an easy score inside on the Flyers first trip of the game. After an empty Coldwater trip, Holly Fortkamp canned a pair of free throws and Jenna Barhorst scored inside to cap the opening-game run.
"One of the things we talked about after the game was that we needed to learn for future games the rest of the season and when we start the tournament that we just cannot have the type of start that we had tonight," said Coldwater coach Nick Fisher. "We allowed their pressure to hurry us.
"They did a good job of using their pressure not to force turnovers as much as to try to hurry us up," continued Fisher. "We did not do a good job of recognizing what they were doing and we played at their pace instead of the pace that we wanted to play and that led to the way the game started for us."
Coldwater was able to pull to within eight at 29-21 on a pair of Amber Heyne free throws on its second trip of the second half. That was to be as close as the Cavaliers were to get however as Marion scored the game's next 11 points to rebuild the lead to 40-21 and Coldwater came no closer than 15 the rest of the way.
In the third period Marion Local was a perfect 11-of-11 from the field and added a pair of free throws. Jenna Barhorst and Moeller had eight points apiece in the period.
"Marion did a great job of going high-low offensively and all their big people know what to do with the ball when they get it," said Fisher. "I was totally impressed with the way they played on both ends tonight."
Moeller led the way for the Flyers with a game-high 22 points while Jenna Barhorst chipped in with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Robbins led the Coldwater attack with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Heyne added 11 points, including three-of-four from three-point range.
Marion Local is back in action on Saturday as it plays host to the Russia Raiders. Coldwater is back in action on Tuesday as it hosts Wapakoneta.