Roughriders' Defense Leashes Bulldogs

St. Marys’ Kendall Dieringer pressures Elida’s Cienna Kuhn in the first quarter of a Western Buckeye League basketball game.
Sports Editor

St. Marys continues to roll.

The Roughriders recorded their best defensive performance of the season, while limiting their turnovers and reaching the .500 mark for the first time this year since the second game of the season with a 45-24 Western Buckeye League win against Elida on Thursday.

St. Marys busted through an early-game tie thanks to its opportunistic defense that created 11 points off seven turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game and that same defense limited the Bulldogs to just eight second-half points on its way to its seventh win  in nine games and third straight overall.

“I was hoping that we would get more of that through the year, but definitely in the first quarter, everyone was playing great defense and we were running in transition really well,” Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. “That is a strength of ours, but we haven’t always seen it in games because we turn the ball over and then we get hesitant on a run.”

The Roughriders’ big matchup is next Thursday against Bath. A win against the Wildcats will make St. Marys a No. 3 seed in the sectional tournament.

But Thursday, the Riders leashed the Bulldogs first.

After Cienna Kuhn tied the game at 4-4 with 5:16 remaining in the first quarter, the Roughriders scored 15 straight points from the 3:21 mark of the first quarter to the 6:17 mark of the second to break the game open with a 19-4 lead.

Elida woke up in the final 6:17, beginning with points in its next three possessions to cut the Roughriders’ lead to 19-11 with 5:04 left in the half. The Bulldogs outscored St. Marys 12-5 in those final 6:17 to trail by eight points, 24-16 at the half.

“They were faster than we thought and they kept on getting out on transition and we thought in the second quarter, they were getting too many open shots in transition,” Burke said. “So we started playing back half court and ( Amira) Freeman is a heck of a weapon that they have so we wanted to take her away and make them play our half court defense.

“That’s our strength and the girls played great defense in the second half.”

Freeman scored all of her six points in the first half — including four of them in that 12-point second quarter for Elida, but she was held scoreless in the second half.

St. Marys outscored Elida 21-8 in the second half as the Roughriders’ half court defense allowed just three field goals. Caywood and Noelle Ruane were both a force inside with a combined 13 points in the second half — nearly doubled what the Bulldogs scored. 

Caywood opened the game by scoring 10 of the team’s 15 points in the opening quarter. The junior finished with a game-high 18 points.

“We have some sets to get them (Caywood and Ruane) some looks inside and it is building their confidence,” Burke said. “We also think that our guards can get inside too so we are working on that. We just need to continue to get layups. We are a good outside shooting team, but not every night so we need to get layups and get to the line.”

Lauren Cisco finished with eight points and Ruane added seven points.

The Roughriders junior varsity team won its game 43-32 — led by Karsyn McGlothen’s 22 points — to improve to 13-3, 6-0 in the WBL.