Hot Shots: Riders Continue Run

St. Marys' Lauren Cisco drives to the basket and lays the ball into the hoop in the third quarter of Thursday's Western Buckeye League girls basketball game against Celina.
Sports Editor

This is quite the run St. Marys is enjoying.

The Riders' 46-21 Western Buckeye League win Thursday night against Celina — their fourth straight victory against their archrival — culminated the season with wins in 14 of the team's final 15 games and the best record in a season in nearly a decade.

"I'm happy with how we ended the season," Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. "That's a coaches dream and the one loss that we had was in overtime and that we had opportunities to win it, but I couldn't be more prouder as a coach. 

"In a stretch of 15 games, there are a lot of 50-50 games and almost every single one of them turned into a 50-50 game, but it has been a lot of fun and this has been a great team to coach."

The Roughriders (17-5, 5-4 WBL) tied a win total with 2010-11 under then-coach Kelly Fulmer, which also finished 17-5, but this year's record is the most victories in the regular season since 2003-04 (19-1 in the regular season).

And what has helped hand many of those wins to St. Marys helped it garner another one on Thursday.

The Defense.

The Roughriders forced 26 turnovers on the Bulldogs and scored 21 points off those turnovers while also limiting the Bulldogs to just 32.2% from the field.

After Celina opened the second half with two quick buckets to cut into the Riders' sizable lead to 22-11, the Roughriders used their defense to score six of their next 10 points in the third quarter and put the Bulldogs away in the fourth quarter by limiting them to one field goal, seven turnovers and nine points off those miscues. 

The Bulldogs' lone lead came when Kennedy Henry scored the first points for her team with a 3-pointer, but Celina turned the ball over in five straight possessions after that and missed its final three shots of the quarter as St. Marys ended the final 5:43 with a 5-0 advantage. 

Kendall Dieringer knocked down a 3-pointer, followed by a drive-in layup by Ally Will and a trey from Carly Caywood to extend the Riders' lead to 16-5 with 4:59 remaining in the first half. During that span, Celina was held scoreless for 9:50 of the game until Taylor Kingshim got a basket with 3:53 left in the first half, but the Riders returned the favor by attacking the paint.

Caywood made one of two free throws, Will connected on a jumper from the right wing and Lauren Cisco buried a pair of one-and-ones to push the lead to 21-5 as St. Marys outscored Celina 19-4 in the final 13:43 of the first half. The Bulldogs turned the ball over 11 times during that span and shot 2-of-13 from the floor.

"I thought we played some really good defense tonight …," Burke said. "When the outside shots are not falling, you have to try to get the ball into the paint going strong and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half.

"We did a good job of taking care of business."

St. Marys is also receiving a nice dose of minutes and points from its bench.

On Thursday, Cora Rable, Kiley Tennant and Haley Felver saw more minutes on the floor after putting in significant minutes in Saturday's non-league win against Russia with Cisco out because of illness, Caywood in foul trouble and Will hurt.

Tennant connected on a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers Thursday, Felver finished with three points and provided muscle in the paint and Rable provided a steady dose of defense in the team's half-court press.

"When Kiley and Haley came in and play hard and play well in their roles, they give us what we need," Burke said. "Sometimes we just need that physical person to grab rebounds and Kiley with her 3s is a nice thing to have.

"In practice she is one of our better shooters so it's fun to see her shots go down in a game and Cora Rable has been able to come in and give us some good minutes as a freshman so we are excited for her future."

Cisco led the Riders with 11 points, followed by 10 from Caywood and nine from Dieringer. Tennant and Will contributed six points each.

The Roughriders junior varsity team finished the season unbeaten in the WBL and 18-4 overall with Thursday night's win against Celina in two quarters. 

The Roughriders head to the postseason where they will await the winner between Elida and Defiance in a Division II sectional final at 2:45 p.m. Feb. 22 at Spencerville High School.

St. Marys Roughriders 8 14 14 10 46

Celina Bulldogs 3 4 12 2 21

St. Marys (17-5, 5-4 WBL)

Carly Caywood 3-3 — 10, Haley Felver 1-1 — 3, Ally Will 3-0 — 6, Kendall Dieringer 3-2 — 9, Lauren Cisco 3-4 — 11, Madi Anthony 0-1 — 1, Kiley Tennant 2-0 — 6. Totals: 15-51, 11-16 — 46.

Celina (4-18, 3-6)

Maria Lutz, Sydney Howell, Kirs Dirksen & Emma Homan 1-0 — 2, Kennedy Henry 1-0 — 3, Taylor Klingshim 3-0 — 6, Payton Bertke 2-0 — 4. Totals: 15-51, 0-0 — 21.