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ST. MARYS — Elida’s young team turned the St. Marys girls basketball team’s turnovers into runouts and lay-ups while the Roughriders’ couldn’t reciprocate on the other end.
The Bulldogs ended the first quarter on a 14-0 run and never looked back in a 49-36 win over St. Marys on Thursday night at Murotech Court.
The Roughriders fall to 2-7 on the season and 0-3 in the Western Buckeye League.
Elida improved to 3-6 on the season and 2-1 in the WBL.
Sophomores Cassidy Slusher and Ashley Lowry both scored a game-high 14 points for Elida, largely fueled by steals and breakout lay-ups.
“Ever since the Vicki Mauk tournament that’s what we’ve been concentrating on, our defense,” Elida head coach Deb Stetler said. “A lot of times our shots don’t fall, so we’ve got to do it on the defensive end and let that feed the offense.”
St. Marys actually won the turnover battle against the Bulldogs, but Elida turned the miscues into easy points while St. Marys’ offense sputtered in the halfcourt.
“We just need to take better care of the ball,” St. Marys head coach Kelly Fulmer said. “It was evident today. Every time they got the ball off a turnover, they went in and cashed in with a basket. We created some turnovers ourselves, but we didn’t score off it.”
The Bulldogs’ fastbreak catalyst is much-needed, as Stetler’s team plays without a senior on the roster and count on sophomores like Slusher, Lowry and Torie McAdams for scoring. Junior Osha Owens added nine and McAdams scored eight points for Elida on Thursday.
“I see improvement every game,” Stetler said of her young team.
The Riders shot 12-of-52 (23 percent) from the floor.
“When we’re trying to get some pressure on the opponent and trying to get some quick ones and not getting those lay-ups that we bank on, it makes for a tough game,” Fulmer said.
Kelly Heitkamp of St. Marys scored a team-high nine points on three made 3-pointers.
After St. Marys grabbed an early 5-2 lead on a Molly Albert three-pointer, Slusher scored three straight baskets in transition to give Elida a lead it would never lose.
St. Marys burst out of the gate in the third quarter with the first five points of the half on a Reagan Aller runner and a Heitkamp three-pointer to get the game to within 29-24. Elida responded with an 11-1 run into the fourth quarter.
“We got great looks in the third quarter and we didn’t make them,” Fulmer said. “They were hitting them tonight and feeling pretty good. They shot well no matter what defense we threw at them.”
The Roughriders began drawing fouls in the fourth quarter as they went hard to the basket, but they could not take advantage. St. Marys shot 8-of-17 from the free throw line — including 3-of-8 in the fourth quarter.
“Not being able to cash in with the clock stopped makes it tough to get into that lead,” Fulmer said.
St. Marys travels to Greenville next Tuesday night.
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