By Robb Hemmelgarn
DEFIANCE -- It took six long seasons, but the Coldwater Lady Cavaliers have re-emerged on the basketball court.
Saturday evening Coldwater captured its first district championship since the 1999-2000 season with a 53-38 victory over the Swanton Bulldogs at Defiance High School in the Division III district title game.
The win pushes the Cavaliers to 18-5 on the season, and they will be back in action on Wednesday when they face Doylestown Chippewa in the regional semifinals in Lexington.
The Cavaliers led comfortably for the majority of the battle, but fought off a late surge by the Bulldogs to secure their 18th win of the season.
"It is a great feeling right now because this is something that the kids have worked very hard for," exclaimed Cavalier coach Nick Fisher when asked about the monumental win. "We were able to take care of business defensively and especially at the free throw line. I told the girls if you do those things well, it is going to help them through the tough times and tonight it really did." Senior Amber Heyne ignited the spark in the opening-quarter with four points in the first minute and a half to give her team the early 4-0 lead. The Bulldogs picked up a pair of free throws to cut their deficit in half, but for the next few minutes, senior Jessica Bettinger grabbed the wheel and drained seven straight points to award her team the 11-2 lead. Swanton connected on their first field goal of the game at the 1:55 mark of the period, but junior Kendra Robbins capped Coldwater's scoring in the quarter with a pair of free throws which put the Orange and Black in charge, 13-5.
Although Swanton opened the second frame with a steal and lay in that cut the Cavalier lead to six points, Coldwater was able to push back ahead by 11 points at 25-14 by the end of the period. Bettinger still had the hot hand, as she picked up six more counters and closed the (Continued from page 1B)
half with 13 points, almost twice her season average. The Cavaliers connected on 10-of-20 of their first-half shots, while Swanton managed to hit on just 5-of-19, while being out-rebounded by Coldwater 15 boards to three.
The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a bucket to cut Coldwater's lead to nine points, but a jumper underneath by Robbins and another long ball by Bettinger in the next couple of minutes, gave Fisher's team the 14-point advantage. With 5:02 left, Bettinger picked up her third foul and after retreating to the bench, the Cavaliers went into a lull. Swanton managed to get a little offense rolling and the quarter ended with a jump shot at the buzzer by Tiffany Wilson which cut her team's deficit to seven points at 34-27.
"I am not really sure what happened in the third quarter, but we seemed to get a little tired and stood around a little bit and they were able to rally," commented Fisher. "We weren't taking real good care of the ball or throwing those extra couple of passes. We got a little complacent and they were able to get back in it."
What just minutes earlier seemed like a certain Coldwater victory was quickly turning interesting, especially after the Bulldogs hit the final period's first five points to pull to within two points at 34-32 with 6:30 left in the game. A timeout by Fisher to regroup his troops seemed to do the trick as the Cavaliers scored the game's next thirteen points and outscored their opponents 19-6 over the final six and a half minutes of the game. During that stretch, Swanton went into desperation mode and fouled Coldwater every chance they had. The Cavaliers responded by drilling 10 straight charity tosses and 15 out of 19 from the free throw line in the period to grab the 15-point victory. "I called that timeout and told the girls that we were okay and that we just needed to take better care of the ball and continue to play great defense," commented Fisher. "I really thought we played outstanding defense tonight and we were able to hold them in check. I think that the main key tonight was our great team-defense."
For the game, Jessica Bettinger led all scorers with 18 points, while Kendra Robbins added 16 points and 14 rebounds. For Swanton, Abby LaVigne finished with 16 points, while Michelle Wilson picked up 14 points in the loss.
TICKET SALES -- Coldwater will be selling tickets for their Regional game to be held at Lexington High School as follows:
¥ Monday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the High School Office.
¥ Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6-7 p.m. in the High School Office.
¥ Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to noon in the High School Office.
All presale tickets are $6. All gate tickets are $8. Coldwater gets a portion of presale only. Directions will be available when you purchase tickets or via our website at www.cavbooster.com. Coldwater will play at 6:15 on Wednesday.