ELIDA — Lima Senior came out with a case of holiday blahs.
And Elida took full advantage by zipping right through the Lima Senior press.
But in the second half, the Spartans cranked up their full-court pressure several notches.
Lima Senior’s pressure game and rebounding helped the Spartans to a 73-65 girls basketball victory over Elida on the opening night of the Vicki Mauk Holiday Invitational.
Lima Senior (5-3) will meet Sylvania Southview (4-4) in the Vicki Mauk championship game at 8 tonight. Southview knocked off Waynesfield-Goshen 56-41 in the opening game. Elida is 1-6.
Lima Senior ended up forcing 21 turnovers out its 2-2-1 zone press, including 15 in the second half.
Essence Cowan paced Lima Senior with 21 points, including six 3-pointers over the Elida 2-3 zone. Rion Thompson scored 20 points. Imara Haynes came off the bench to deliver eight points and 13 rebounds.
“Imara was strong in there for us,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said. “And we’ve been telling Essence to catch and shoot it.”
For Elida, Abby Waddle, who will sign with Indiana Tech today, had 16 points. Hope Carter and freshman Shyah Wheeler both scored 13.
Cowan said her early-morning workouts helped her shooting.
“I’ve been going up to the Y at 6 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “I’ve been doing that about four times a week.”
Both teams played little defense in the opening half. Elida led 20-18 after the first quarter and the game was tied at 36 at the half.
“I felt like we weren’t even trying in the first half, defensively,” Halliday said. “It was way too easy for them. In the second half, we went more to the 2-2-1 press, and we were more active in it and did a better job corralling their ball handlers.”
Elida co-coach Chrissy Billiter was happy with her team’s effort in the first half.
“We played a good first half against a superb team and we come out that flat (in the second half),” Billiter said. “We got tired, then we lost our concentration. … Our girls stopped believing in themselves. One turnover leads to two, two leads into three. It snowballs with us.”
Elida co-coach Elise Jenkins felt the key was “getting some easy buckets (against the press), but that was when we were passing, instead of trying to dribble through them.”
Lima Senior won the boards, 46-31, including 21-8 on the offensive boards. Bailey Kuhn had 10 rebounds for Elida. Thompson had seven rebounds for Lima Senior.
Lima Senior outscored Elida 10-4 to start the third quarter to pull out to a 46-40 lead. The Spartans led 55-49 after three.
Cowan had two 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter, as the Spartans pulled out to a 67-55 lead.
“We rotating the ball more (against their zone),” Cowan said. “It rotated back to me and I let it go.”
Sylvania Southview 56,
Sylvania Southview went inside to 6-foot Emily Westphal and there wasn’t a lot Waynesfield could do about it.
Westphal finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks to lead Southview.
Maria Pappas added 14 points for Southview.
Waynesfield was led by Paige Crawford’s 15 points. Abbie Van Horn scored 10.
The Tigers led 18-8 after the first quarter, but Southview went on a 9-0 run to kick off the second quarter and outscored the Tigers 13-2 in the second.
Southview led 21-20 at the half and 44-37 after three quarters.
Southview’s variety of presses forced Waynesfield (3-4) into 22 turnovers.