By Gary R. Rasberry
VAN WERT -- For Coldwater, is was a rough night, but with a good ending.
For Parkway, it was a good start, but a tough finish.
The Grand Lake Area's representatives at the Division III girl's basketball sectional at Van Wert split their games on Saturday.
The Cavaliers overcame a terrible shooting night but turned up the defense to hold off a feisty Paulding squad, 39-30, in the opening game of sectional final action.
In the nightcap, Parkway played even with St. John's the first quarter, but suffered an offensive lapse in the middle quarters which ended their season with a 59-35 loss to the MAC rival Blue Jays. Coldwater and St. John's head to the district tournament on Thursday at Defiance High School. The Cavaliers play Swanton at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday while the Blue Jays play Archbold in the second game.
Coldwater 39, Paulding 30
The old adage of good defense being a great covering for poor offense rang true for the Cavaliers, who struggled with their shooting all night long.
The Cavaliers managed just 13-of-51 shooting (25 percent) in the game, including an 0-of-13 night from beyond the three-point line.
But the Cavaliers fought back by forcing 24 Panther turnovers and used a solid rebounding game to keep Paulding from taking a lot of shots. Paulding was just 10-of-32 from the field as the Cavaliers won the rebounding battle, 36-30. Coldwater also got plenty of second chances on the offensive side, pulling down 17 offensive rebounds.
"I told the girls the offense comes and goes, but your defense came," said Cavalier coach Nick Fisher. "It was there pretty much all night."
The slow start was in large part to Paulding's 2-3 zone that kept Kendra Robbins from using her height advantage inside but also kept the Cavs' outside game from getting any good looks at the basket.
"Give Paulding credit. They did a nice job of matching up with us," said Fisher. "We really couldn't get any continuity. The ball movement was a little better than it was (in the regular season finale) against New Bremen, but it's not where we want it yet."
After trailing 10-7 after the first quarter, Coldwater got some spark in the second, outscoring the Panthers 12-4 in the period to take a 19-14 lead at the half.
Paulding came back and got as close as one point midway through the third quarter, but Coldwater was able to pull away and kept the five-point lead at the end of the quarter then pushed it out a little more in the fourth quarter.
Robbins continued to lead the charge for the Cavaliers, finishing with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Four other Cavaliers -- Katelyn Kramer, Amber Heyne, Brooke Gross and Jessica Bettinger -- each added four points.
Abby Gross came off the bench to score 12 for Paulding (8-14) while Ashley Clark added 10.
St. John's 59, Parkway 35
At the start of the game it was the Panthers, who lost by over 43 points to the Blue Jays in January, who set the tone. Slowing the game down and using some solid shooting, the teams were tied at 14-all at the quarter break.
"We had a great start," said Parkway coach Krystal Sensabaugh. "That was our gameplan, to come out and slow the game down, stay with them each possession and try to go back if they stopped us on offense and stop them with defense. If they scored, we wanted to score."
"Parkway did a great job early in the game," said St. John's coach Dan Grothouse. "They came out with a lot of confidence, a lot of energy, a lot more than we had. They matched us basket for basket and took it to us."
Parkway got the lead to start the second quarter on a Jayme Marbaugh jumper 34 seconds into the quarter. Sarah Clark tied the game with 5:26 to go before Jeanne Bockey scored to put the Jays up for good and starting an 11-3 run to end the second quarter. Bockey scored eight of the 15 points for St. John's in the quarter as the Blue Jays led 29-19 at the half.
The hot shooting of the Jays continued in the third quarter, outscoring Parkway 16-4 in the quarter. Bockey added another nine points to her total in the period as Parkway scored the first points of the third quarter, then went cold for six minutes before Ashley Gamble scored to make it 39-23 with 1:48 to go in the quarter.
"The first quarter really tired us," said Sensabaugh. "We gave everything we had. The girls really worked hard. We just don't have that championship play yet."
Bockey finished the game with 24 points and Elyse Grothouse added 10 points. Marian Bevington led Parkway with 13 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter. Tiffany Steinbrunner and Marbaugh wrapped up their basketball careers at Parkway with eight and seven points, respectively.