Rough Landing: Riders Upset No. 2 Flyers

St. Marys' Carly Caywood flexes her muscle to teammate Lauren Cisco after the final buzzer sounded for a 46-37 girls basketball win against No. 2 ranked Marion Local on Tuesday
Sports Editor

Once the game got tough, the seniors were there to help. 

After a missed shot from one of St. Marys’ younger players, Lauren Cisco could be heard yelling from the bench, ‘keep shooting, you’re doing fine.”

Or when one of the three sophomores showed frustration after committing a foul, Ally Will raced over to encourage her.

Those aspects of the game won’t show up on the scoreboard or a stat sheet and may not garner extra votes for all-league honors, but it helps a younger team pull off an upset against a state-ranked squad.

And those seniors would trade for that win any day of the week.

“Our seniors had really good leadership tonight,” Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. “They keep us poised, they keep us relaxed and they have been through a lot in the last couple of seasons. They have seen this team grow, they knew what we can do and they want to  us get there. They help our sophomores a lot.

“Ally Will did something that you don’t see on the floor because you’re not looking for it and it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet but when a girl commits a foul, she is going right to that girl’s ear right away. Positive encouragement. That is something we have preached a lot. That’s Ally Will’s leadership and that’s why she is the best.”

A second-quarter run to take a lead it never gave up while also holding ground in a one-point game, St. Marys pulled off the upset by taking down No. 2 Marion Local 46-37 by converting on free throws down the stretch thanks to Will and leadership from its seniors.

“I’m proud of our girls,” Burke said. “They didn’t have [Alana] Pohlman and I think that makes a little bit of a difference with her in, but we didn’t have Carly Caywood at 100% tonight either. But I am really proud of our girls. Marion Local is a really good team, they are physical and bigger than us.

“I thought Kendall Dieringer played much bigger than what her physical size is and Ally Will came through at the end of the game with a lot of poise, knocked down some really key free throws and played some really good defense on [Heidi] Rethman at a key time in the game when we really needed her to.”

St. Marys (11-4) converted on a season-high 20-of-30 free throws with 17-of-25 coming in the second half and the defense forced 22 turnovers to turn away a Marion Local team who was fresh off its win against then-No. 2 ranked Minster last week and have lost two of its last three after winning the first 13 games of the season. 

But Marion Local made the Roughriders earn their win. The Flyers pulled within one, 31-30 on a bucket by Heidi Rethman, but that was the closest the Flyers got as St. Marys finished 11-of-15 from the free-throw line in the final 6:51 since Rethman pulled the game to within one. Will led the way by finished 6-of-8 during that span. 

In the meantime, the Roughriders’ defense held on, not allowing another field goal and just five points — all off free throws. Marion Local committed four turnovers during that span, which turned into four St. Marys’ points. 

The Riders also did a nice job of running nearly three minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter leading 40-31. The Flyers did not score a point until Rethman knocked down a pair of one-and-one shots with 1:20 remaining while trailing 33-42.

“One thing that we learned last season at certain points in certain games is that if you take a shot and you miss it, it’s a turnover,” Burke said. “At that time, the ball is more valuable than your two points so we have to possess that ball, take care of the ball and understand that we might get two points, but that means they have the ball and they might get an and-one, get a three-point shot or they might get momentum and press us.

“What we really preached is at certain times, you’ve got to possess the ball and running clock than getting points and that is a tough balance.”

Dieringer led all scorers with 16 points and 8-of-12 from the free-throw line, followed by 10 points from Noelle Ruane — who collected seven of them in the first quarter to tie the game at 9-9 heading into the second stanza.

“We need Noey to shoot the ball,” Burke said of the sophomore. “She is an amazing player and we haven’t seen what Noey can do in a game yet. It is a matter of her opening up and having the confidence to really go out, loosened up and play.

“That will be the story of her career is when she is relaxed and she goes out and plays her game, she is going to be an amazing player.”

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