BATH TOWNSHIP — You just have to do what you do best if you want to advance in tournament play.
Lima Central Catholic (12-11) hit just enough 3-pointers and forced just enough turnovers to hold on for a 49-46 win over Wayne Trace in the Division III sectional semifinal girls basketball tournament Wednesday at Bath. Bluffton beat Coldwater 41-39 in the opening game at Bath.
In the LCC-Wayne Trace nightcap, the much taller Raiders (6-17) jumped out to an 11-5 lead after the first quarter of play thanks to 5-of-10 shooting from the field.
The T-Birds then turned up the pressure in the second quarter and their press caused eight Raiders’ turnovers and LCC discovered its shooting eye. Four 3-pointers, two by Meredith Shepherd plus one each by Elizabeth Kidd and Kayla Verhoff, paced the T-Birds to an 18-6 advantage in the second quarter and they took a 23-17 lead to the half.
“When we pressure the ball, we play well,” LCC coach Katie Krieg said. “With no pressure they made baskets.”
After connecting on only 3-of-11 field goals in the second quarter, the Raiders began to pound the ball inside in the third period and they hit on 7-of-10 from the floor. But three more treys by LCC kept them in front 34-32 going to the fourth quarter.
Shepherd, on her way to a game-high 21 points, hit back-to-back treys to end the third and open the fourth period to keep the T-Birds in control, but LCC could never put the Raiders away.
Wayne Trace got to within 47-46 and sent the T-Birds to the line. LCC missed the front-end of the one-and-one but Shepherd grabbed the offensive rebound, was fouled and made both free throws to seal the LCC victory.
“Wayne Trace came ready to play and we had to pick up our intensity, and we were able to do that at the right time,” Shepherd said. “We lost some close games this year and that helped us to keep our composure at the end.”
The Raiders connected on 22-of-42 from the field for 52 percent but LCC was able to offset that hot-shooting as it connected on 10 treys in the game.
“We kind of lived and died by the three tonight but we were able to hit some big ones,” Krieg said. “We kept our composure at the end when we struggled at the free throw line, but we made hustle plays and rebounded well.”
Besides the 21-point effort by Shepherd, LCC got 10 points from Sydney Santaguida that came on the strength of three 3-pointers.
The T-Birds advance to meet Ottawa-Glandorf at 8 p.m. Saturday in sectional final action at Bath
Bluffton 41, Coldwater 39
The opening game of the evening saw the Pirates hold on to knock off the Cavaliers.
Bluffton used a strong defensive effort to hold Coldwater in check and got nice efforts from junior Sarah Schriner, Anna Crisp and Paige Buroker on the offensive end.
Schriner had a team-high 15 points and got support from Crisp with 10 points and Buroker with 8.
Schriner, who totaled eight fourth quarter points to keep the Pirates in control, was aggressive in attacking the basket at the end. She connected on the game winner with only 2.3 seconds to play in the game.
“This is my first year of public school as I was home schooled previously,” Schriner said. “I wanted this win so bad, I wanted it for my team.”
Bluffton (12-11) used a 1-2-2 zone defense to frustrate the Cavaliers’ shooters, who ended the night hitting only of 2-of-17 3-point attempts. Toss in 15-of-37 on two pointers and Coldwater finished game shooting only 31 percent from the field.
The Cavaliers (13-10) did get a game-high 16 points from sophomore Brooke Welsch while Sarah Kanney finished with 10 for Coldwater.
“Sarah missed a lay-up with 20 seconds left and I beat her up a little in the timeout, but we set that final play up for her,” Bluffton coach Eric Garmatter said. “We didn’t turn the ball over much tonight and we kept their big scorers under control.”
Bluffton next faces Allen East at 6:15 p.m. Saturday for the right to advance to the Kalida District.