Girls Hoops: Shawnee presses past St. Marys in WBL opener

SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee has just one player taller than 5-foot-7 listed on its roster. Going up against a St. Marys team with six players taller than that, Shawnee planned on disrupting the Riders before they could use that advantage in the half court.

Shawnee’s full-court pressure created 31 turnovers and easy baskets as the Indians opened Western Buckeye League action with a 56-43 win over St. Marys on Thursday.

St. Marys at Shawnee Girls Basketball Photos:

“It’s just height versus pressure,” Shawnee head coach Jeff Heistan said. “We don’t have any height. We were able to create enough havoc on the floor to not give them easy opportunities.”

St. Marys committed 31 turnovers, leading to plenty of open-court opportunities for Shawnee senior guard Britt Lauck and company.

“It’s exactly what Shawnee wanted us to do,” St. Marys head coach Kelly Fulmer said. “Put a lot of pressure on us in the frontcourt and hope to make us make a turnover or rush up a shot. They wanted to speed us up. We let their pressure get to us a little bit.”

Lauck scored a game-high 20 points. Abby Waddle added 15 points.

St. Marys fell to 0-4 and 0-1 in the WBL.

St. Marys’ Lee Ann Bertke scored 14 points off the bench.

“She was aggressive,” Fulmer said. “We were waiting for that spark to hit her and she got the ball and got strong with it and took it aggressively to the basket. She was getting some big rebounds for us offensively and getting stickbacks.  She had a breakout game.”

The  Riders’ Kelly Heitkamp drained 4-of-5 three-pointers to score 14, as well.

Shawnee led 20-11 after one quarter by creating 11 turnovers.

St. Marys got back in the game by slowing things down and going to a zone defense. Bertke provided a spark with eight points in the first half on 4-for-4 shooting.

“We pulled off the press. They were getting a lot of easy shots and feeding into their game,” Fulmer said. “When we slowed things down, we realized we could compete a bit. We moved the ball around and got some good looks and defensively got our hands on a lot of passes and got turnovers.”

Shawnee couldn’t put away the Roughriders, shooting 3-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc and going 9-of-20 from the free throw line.

“We didn’t attack the zone,” Heistan said. “Everything we did was from the perimeter. They took away the passing lanes and we didn’t penetrate from the top. But again, that’s their advantage of height.”

St. Marys trimmed the lead to 22-18 early in the second quarter with a Bertke putback, a Heitkamp three-pointer and a Bertke inside basket.

Shawnee led 29-24 at the half.

The Indians found some breathing room with a 6-0 run in the third quarter on baskets by Lauck, Waddler and Jaden Marlowe.

The lead reached double-digits at 43-32 in the fourth quarter on a Isabelle Baird basket.

St. Marys’ Reagan Aller went down in the first minute of the game with an ankle injury and did not return to the game.

St. Marys won the rebounding battle 37-22. The Riders had 17 offensive rebounds.