New Year, New Riders

St. Marys’ Lauren Cisco attempts a 3-pointer in the first quarter of a non-league girls basketball game against Spencerville on Tuesday.
Sports Editor

St. Marys began 2020 with an improved sense of play.

The Roughriders have struggled shooting the ball most of the season, have let opponents stick around in games and did not always clean up the boards. 

But that was in 2019 and Tuesday’s contest was by far the most complete game the Roughriders played this season en route to a 52-24 non-league win against Spencerville.

The Roughriders (6-4) — winners of three straight — took advantage of the 3-ball with five first-half 3-pointers that helped them build a lead and cushion themselves from the Bearcats, limited the Bearcats’ offensive chances with a double-digit defensive rebound total and kept Spencerville’s shooting from downtown grounded.

“I thought we got good rhythm shots, we got the ball inside and kicked it out and had nice 10-finger,  10-toe 3s at the basket,” Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. “I really don’t think we forced shots, they dropped tonight, which helps the cause so I’m really proud of our girls. I thought they had good patience offensively, they’re strong inside — they were looking to be strong on the post — and I thought we finished our layups really well.

“I thought we played a really good offensive and defensive game as a team.”

Spencerville’s (7-5) only lead came in the early minutes of the game up 5-2 before St. Marys went on an 8-0 run beginning with a 3-pointer from Lauren Cisco off the right edge, a 3-pointer from Noelle Ruane, followed by a Carly Caywood layup on a quick feed from Kendall Dieringer. Caywood returned the favor for the Roughriders’ sophomore guard with a kick out to the outside and a triple by Dieringer to push the sudden lead to 15-9 with 2:56 remaining.

All of a sudden, the Riders had control for the rest of the game. 

Defensive rebounding took over from there as the Roughriders limited Spencerville to one-and-done possessions five times in the second quarter. In the second half, St. Marys finished 17-2 in defensive-to-offensive rebound ratio. 

St. Marys also put pressure on the Bearcats’ quick-strike perimeter shooting by making Spencerville settle for 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. The Bearcats’ main threat, Emma Leis, finished with just seven points and one 3-pointer.

Spencerville did not record a field goal in the first quarter for 3:03 during St. Marys’ 8-0 run and were shut out from the floor in the second quarter until the 3:35 mark — a duration of 7:41. The Bearcats also missed their first four shots to open the second half until connecting on one with 3:48 left in the third quarter trailing 38-15 and notched their only basket of the fourth quarter on a transition two from Gillian Goecke with St. Marys leading 48-24.

The Roughriders finished nearly 50% from the floor with a 20-of-45 clip (44.4%) and 5-of-10 from the 3-point line — including a 5-of-7 clip in the first half. 

Inside, Caywood finished with 12 points and from the perimeter, Dieringer scored a game-high 14 points, followed by 12 points from Cisco. 

To read the full story, see Wednesday's print edition of The Evening Leader.