Seniors Close Out First WBL Win

St. Marys' Lauren Cisco attempts a free throw in the first half of Thursday's Western Buckeye League game against Van Wert.
Sports Editor

St. Marys showed on Thursday that it’s growing as a team.

In their first Western Buckeye League game against Defiance on Dec. 5, the Roughriders let a fourth-quarter lead get away as the Bulldogs turned a late third-quarter deficit into a comeback win in the final stanza.

A similar situation occurred against Van Wert when the Cougars erased a seven-point deficit entering the fourth quarter down to just two points — but this time the Riders closed out the game.

Led by their three seniors, Ally Will, Lauren Cisco and Carly Caywood, they scored the team’s final 10 points and 10 of the game’s final 13 points overall to hang on to a 43-34 victory and notch the Riders’ first WBL win of the season.

And the irony was the seniors put the game away at the free-throw line.

The team shot just 3-of-11 from the charity stripe through the first three quarters, but connected on 8-of-11 in the final 1:39. Eight of St. Marys’ (7-4, 1-3 WBL) 10 points scored by the three seniors came from the free-throw line.

“That was good poise and good leadership,” Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. “They settled down when they needed to. This is a physical and quick Van Wert team and they make the game sloppy, they’re young, scrappy and I thought down the stretch, we did a nice job of possessing the ball, being smart, having them foul us and knocking down those free throws.

“I was not happy with our free-throw shooting in the first three quarters but we ended up coming through.”

After the Cougars (2-9, 1-3) scored on their second field goal attempt of the game, they never led after that as the Roughriders ended the first quarter by scoring the last nine points to lead 9-2.

But Van Wert kept St. Marys within three possessions despite missing its first eight 3-point attempts before Jerica Huebner connected on her only points in the game with a 3-pointer to close the half at 15-11, St. Marys.

Huebner’s triple opened Van Wert’s perimeter game as the Cougars went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc in the third quarter, but just as effectively, St. Marys shot 6-of-12 from the field to push its lead back to seven, 31-24, heading into the fourth quarter. The other fact to Van Wert’s sudden success was rebounding. The Cougars grabbed four offensive rebounds which led to four points while the team’s five defensive boards limited the Roughriders’ offense despite a decent third-quarter shooting effort.

Then the Cougars began to chip away.

St. Marys missed its first three shots — all 3-point attempts — and followed it up with three turnovers with a Kendall Dieringer transition bucket sandwiched between. The Cougars began to capitalize on the Riders’ miscues on a transition bucket from Jaylyn Rickard and a steal from Caylle Phillips led to one of two free throws to cut the Riders’ lead to 33-31 with 2:52 remaining in the game.

The Roughriders were also dealing with foul trouble when Dieringer was hit with her fourth foul with 5:30 in the fourth quarter and Will was hit with her fourth with 2:52 to go.

But a key feed from Cisco to Caywood led to a layup for the senior post to push the lead back to four as the Cougars went on to miss their next five shots as the Roughriders collected four defensive rebounds — all leading to foul shots — and eventually leading to free throws.

Caywood and Cisco each knocked down a pair of one-and-one tries in back-to-back possessions to push the Riders’ lead to 39-31. Caywood then went 1-of-2 on the next two possessions followed by Will going 1-of-2 in the final two possessions to ice the game for St. Marys.

“We just needed to be more patient offensively,” Burke said. “I didn’t think that was all there tonight. I thought we felt panicked and rushed, which we really haven’t felt since maybe the Defiance game, and this game felt similar in that. We had a team hanging around and we just couldn’t put them away, but that’s where the growth showed tonight and that we were able to finish the game with free throws.”