Riders Push Through Pesky Shawnee

St. Marys’ Noelle Ruane tries to find a way out of a jam as Shawnee’s Aaliyah Fowler has her hand on the ball in her attempt to steal it away from the Roughriders sophomore during Thursday’s Western Buckeye League girls basketball game.
Sports Editor

St. Marys turned its defense into offense to notch its seventh straight win Thursday.

With struggles from the field and Shawnee's shot blocker under the basket, St. Marys turned to its defense to generate points in the second half to come away with a 39-31 victory in Western Buckeye League action on Thursday. 

The two teams did not score the first points of the game until there was 4:13 remaining in the opening quarter, both teams shot under 37% from the field and at one point within three points a couple of minutes into the third quarter, but the Roughriders also ran out to a 13-5 first-quarter lead and forced turnovers in five consecutive possessions in the third quarter to earn their seventh straight win. 

"We needed to be generating points off our defense.  We weren't doing that for a while coming out of the half," Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. "But then when we switched to a zone press or a zone defense, we were able to get in passing lanes a little better and when we went back to the man press, we were able to turn the ball over.

"We needed to get out in transition. We are going up against their half-court defense when they are in their shell which is really difficult because they have (Trinity) Gearing in the middle. We didn't shoot very well tonight so we had to get out in transition and shoot layups."

Trailing 25-18 entering the second half, Shawnee (4-10, 1-4 WBL) pulled within five points with a pair of quick cross-court layups and the Tribe's 6-foot-1 post Trinity Gearing got past Carly Caywood and shot over Noelle Ruane to close the game to 27-24 with 6:08 left in the third quarter as part of a 6-2 run.

St. Marys cranked up its pressure by forcing eight turnovers in the final 11 third-quarter possessions for the Indians as Kendall Dieringer turned one of those miscues into a layup, followed by a 3-pointer by Lauren Cisco off another Indians' turnover to push the game to eight points, 32-24, with 2:24 left. Riders extended the lead to 34-24 entering the fourth quarter as part of a 7-0.

After shooting nearly 50% from the floor against New Bremen on Tuesday, St. Marys settled for just 30.1% on 16-of-52 on Thursday.

The game's first points came courtesy of Aaliyah Fowler's bucket 3:47 into the game as both teams missed a combined 13 shots before the first points, but once the Riders found the basket, they jumped on the Indians with an 11-0 run.

Caywood found some opening from the perimeter for a trey at 3:14, followed by a transition bucket from Haley Felver. Dieringer accounted for the team's next four points on a pair of free throws and a layup and Caywood's layup concluded the 11-0 with 1:32 left in the opening quarter.

Buckets by Dieringer, Ruane and Cisco pushed the Riders' lead to 21-9 with 3:58 remaining in the first half, but Shawnee stuck around with a 9-4 advantage to close the deficit to 25-18 at the half.

The Roughriders have dealt with a pesky Shawnee team in each of their last three meetings.

In a regular-season game last year at Shawnee, St. Marys was outscored 34-30 in quarters two through four and led the Indians by just three at the end of the first half, but eventually took a six-point lead in the fourth quarter and ran out the clock for the win. In a sectional championship later that season, the Indians tied the game on a 3-pointer in the second quarter, but Caywood scored 14 of the team's first 18 points in the first half and five of the game's next seven points in the fourth quarter to pull away.

Thursday's win was the lowest points scored by St. Marys in a winning effort this season.

Dieringer led the Riders with 13 points, followed by nine from Caywood and eight from Ruane.