SPENCERVILLE — When St. Marys faced Bath during the regular season, the Wildkittens erased an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Roughriders, 39-35.
But in a Saturday night Division II sectional final St. Marys held off Bath in a rough-and-tumble contest and posted a 46-35 victory.
This is St. Marys’ first sectional title since 2009.
“We wanted it more,” St. Marys head coach Jon Burke said. “I think we wanted it in the first game (during the regular season) but this time we really wanted it. I think everybody played their role tonight. We got rebounds at the end and we just had a good team effort.”
St. Marys, who improved to 11-13 for the season, advances to the district semifinals against Defiance in Paulding at 8 p.m.Thursday. Bath ends its year with an 18-5 mark.
Bath’s only lead was at the beginning when they went up 1-0. After that St. Marys would hold the lead for the remainder of the contest. Bath did tie it once at 26-26 in the third quarter but the Wild Kittens could not get over the hump.
“They outhustled us,” Bath head coach Greg Mauk said. “They outworked us. They got the loose balls, the rebounds and we didn’t have a good shooting night and them getting extra possessions was kind of the difference in the game.”
A smothering defense and the shooting of senior Makenna Mele were the two primary reason for the Roughriders’ win.
Mele pumped in 27 of the Roughriders’ 46 points and Burke said she was determined to not make this her last game.
“We came out and knew what we needed to do tonight,” Mele said. “We came out as a team and played the whole 32 minutes. We have been working the whole season.”
Mele’s eight points in the fourth quarter were clutch down the stretch in which the senior knocked down six of the Roughriders last eight points, including a layup as she was falling to the floor as well as going 4 for 4 from the free throw line.three points .”
“Twelve (Mele) hurt us,” Mauk said. “When we allow someone to score 27 like that out of 45 that makes it a huge problem for us.”
Even more interesting was that Syd Cisco, one of the Riders leading scorers, had three points but she contributed by grabbing five rebounds, helping on defense and was the lynch pin in dealing with Bath’s vaunted press.
“Her job was to help on the outside defense and get the job up the court,” Burke said. “We didn’t need her to shoot 3’s.
Both Burke and Mele both agreed that it was the team’s defense that shined against Bath. The Roughriders were all over the floor and helped in keeping Bath from finding a rhythm offensive and even when they got open shots they did not fall. It was also instrumental in shutting down Bath’s inside game.
Bath was a tough 5-of-28 from behind the 3-point arc.
Even though Jaidyn Hale scored 18 points, she had to earn every one of those and that was thanks to a strong defensive effort by Lauren Cisco. No other Bath player scored in double digits.
“Lauren Cisco did a heck of a job on Hale,” Burke said. “That is what sealed it for us.”
Burke added also praised the effort of Aliya Patterson’s defense against Elysabette Andrews
“Aliya’s play on Andrews was phenomenal,” Burke said. “She brought some great energy in the game for us. Carly Caywood came off the bench and got after it tonight.”
Defiance 41, Elida 36
Defiance held off a late Elida rally in Saturday night’s other sectional final at Spencerville.
Defiance, 19-4, advances to face St. Marys in the district semifinals in Paulding at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Elida ends its season with a 7-17 mark.
Down 37-27 with 3:10 left in the game, the Bulldogs, behind the shooting of Shyah Wheeler, sliced the lead to 39-36 with a little less than a minute to go. However, Defiance hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to stave off the Bulldogs.
Defiance’s Kennedy Replogle scored 13 points and teammate Carlee Smiddy finished with 12. For Elida, Wheeler finished with 12 and Amira Freeman chipped in 10.