LIMA — Lima Central Catholic was in search of a spark.
It had lost four in a row and was coming off an 0-2 performance at the Bath Holiday Tournament.
Kayla Verhoff gave the Thunderbirds the boost they needed with 17 points and four 3-pointers to lift LCC to a 51-45 girls basketball victory over Coldwater.
LCC also outrebounded the taller Cavaliers, featuring 6-foot-2 Denise Schwieterman and 5-9 Lauren Leugers. LCC won the boards, 28-26.
LCC’s Meredith Shepherd had eight points and nine rebounds for LCC. The T-Birds’ tallest player, 5-8 Sydney Mohler, had eight rebounds with her five points. Mohler came in averaging 13 rebounds per game.
“Not being very tall, but being the tallest girl on the team, my responsibility is to rebound and get in there,” Mohler said. “I try to get every rebound that I can.”
LCC is 7-4. Coldwater is 7-3.
For the T-Birds, a big key was an improvement in their man-to-man defense. Mohler watched Schwieterman inside.
“Our defense, we really stepped that up,” LCC coach Katie Krieg said. “We really focused on that after our losses in the holiday tournament. It was a matter of talking (on defense), working on screens and being focused on defense.”
Coldwater pressed for most of the game, especially with a 1-2-2 halfcourt trap. LCC ended up with 20 turnovers, while Coldwater had 19.
But once LCC broke through the press, it did a good job running its offense against the 3-2 zone.
LCC went out to a 14-8 first-quarter lead, with both Shepherd and Liz Kidd (eight points) hitting 3-pointers.
The T-Birds led 27-21 at half, then broke loose from the outside in the third quarter.
Verhoff hit three 3-pointers in the third, all from the left corner. Kidd also had a 3-pointer and the T-Birds went on a 14-7 run to take a 44-28 lead after three.
“They were really focused on Meredith (Shepherd), so we put her in the middle of the zone and said that’s great because we have a lot more shooters,” Krieg said. “Kayla and Liz Kidd both hit some big shots for us.”
LCC ended up shooting 39 percent from the floor and hit 8 of 23 on 3-pointers. Coldwater shot 42 percent from the field and was 3 of 10 on 3-pointers.
“Defensively, we picked it up a lot,” Verhoff said. “Offensively, we got it in the middle (of the zone) and got open shots. And we made them, finally, today. … We’re always confident in our shot. We shoot when we’re open. We’re confident in each other.”
In the fourth quarter, Coldwater went right inside to Leugers, who had seven of her 14 points in the final quarter. Schwieterman finished with 11 points for the Cavs. Sarah Kanney and Erica Sudhoff both had nine points.
Coldwater also went to man-to-man press in the fourth, which brought the Cavs within five, 50-45, with 10 seconds left after a 3-pointer by Sudhoff.
But that was as close as it would get, with Shepherd and Mohler controlling the boards.
“We had four losses in a row,” Krieg said. “This was a really nice win. Coldwater was a great team, played really good defense and made us work for our points.”