LIMA — The UNOH women’s basketball team held a slight advantage over an undefeated, athletic St. Francis team for the first 30 minutes of Tuesday night’s game at the UNOH Garage.
But it was a very swift run by the Cougars in the last 10 minutes of the game that suddenly put UNOH in a hole it couldn’t climb out of.
St. Francis defeated UNOH 66-55, improving to 5-0. UNOH starts its season 1-3.
“We’re a very inexperienced team,” UNOH coach Kyle Menchhofer said. “We have five girls with zero or one year of college basketball experience, and we’re asking them to play major minutes. They’re still getting their feet wet, and tonight we played a team that was loaded with juniors and seniors.”
One of those young players making the quick adaptation to college basketball is Jess Johns, an ex-Bath standout who came off the bench for the Racers and scored a team-high 13 points. Johns shot 6-of-7 from the field and added five rebounds.
“All of my teammates have made it really easy to adjust,” Johns said. “They were all freshmen once too, so they know how to handle being a freshman. It’s a very big accomplishment for me to be able to play college basketball.”
“We need more freshmen and underclassmen to step up like Jess did today,” senior Angie Cates said. “We all need to push the ball and play good defense.”
The Racers are coming off a season in which they finished 17-14, and tied for third in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. As they try to build on that success, they will also try to deal with the youth of their program, which will need to replace Rebecca Puckett, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.
“You want to try to mature and get better with each game,” Menchhofer said. “It just gets tough when the results on the scoreboard don’t necessarily reflect that improvement. You’re bringing in players from all over Ohio, as well as Michigan and Indiana. In the past two years we’ve brought in 15 new players, and they’re trying to get acclimated to playing with each other as well as getting to know our coaching staff.”
The Racers understand the kind of attitude that a 1-3 record may draw from opponents, but don’t necessarily see it as a negative.
“We’re going to fly under the radar,” senior Shaye Warman said. “Right now, we’re one of those teams that other teams see on the schedule as a guaranteed win because of the fact that one of our best players is out for the season and we only have three returning starters… We’re young.”
Saige Meyer added, “This is our chance to work on those things that we’re not doing well at. The short term goal is to correct those mistakes we’re making in the first four games and build on that toward the long-term goal of winning in tournaments.”