SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Shawnee and Lima Central Catholic struggled shooting the ball during Saturday’s girls basketball encounter.
In the end, the Indians overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth period and outscored the Thunderbirds 11-0 in the final four minutes to take a 41-26 non-league victory.
LCC canned 14-of-38 shots (37.1 percent), including missing on all five 3-point attempts versus Shawnee’s 16-of-44 (7-of-19 treys) for 36.4 percent.
The game was tied 27-27 entering the fourth period and LCC (4-5) rode a strong game by junior Rosie Williams (23 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals), especially her eight points in the fourth period, to build up a 34-27 edge. In the final 3 ½ minutes, the only points the Thunderbirds scored were her two free throws. Slowly, the Indians (2-6) rallied, jump-started by a 3-pointer by Grace O’Connor (15 points, all on 3s). Samya Wright (12 points, 4 assists) hit two free throws and 6-foot-1 sophomore Trinity Gearing – who struggled with foul trouble – dropped a bucket to get the Indians within 36-34 at the 1:45 mark. Aaliyah Fowler (3 steals) tied the game on a bucket at 1:10. An LCC turnover (one of 18 for the contest to 19 for the Indians) set up O’Connor to bury a 3-pointer with 16 seconds to go to give the Indians the lead for good. Wright sealed the deal with a breakaway layup off a steal as time ran out.
“We came out with great energy in the fourth period. That was a game-changer for us,” Shawnee head coach Rachel Ciminillo said. “I think a lot of that had to do with the pressure we were under and we’ve been looking to figure out how to come through in the clutch. These girls have been working so hard but we’ve been struggling. We finally closed the game well when we’ve been struggling with that as well so far this season.”
LCC head coach Ron Williams felt it was another game his charges let slip away.
“This is the second game we’ve been leading by 5-6 points with about 3-4 minutes to go and let slip away. Both times we struggled at the foul line – today we were 8-or-20,” Williams said. “If we hit a few more free throws, instead of being up by 4-6 points, we’re up by nine and it’s a different game. If we don’t let these two games get away, we’re 6-3 – instead of 4-5 like we are now – and it’s a whole different season for us.”
Neither team could get much of anything going offensively in the first period, combining on 6-of-19 shooting. Gearing picked up her second foul at the 4:02 mark of the first quarter and went to the bench as the teams’ defenses made things difficult for the other’s offense. Rosie Williams and Hannah Garver each dropped four points for LCC. When Wright scored with 36 seconds to go, that made the score 9-6 in favor of the T-Birds.
Williams continued to set the pace for LCC in the second period, scoring five of its seven points, but both teams remained in a defensive struggle, combining on 7-of-23 from the floor. Shawnee received a pair of 3-pointers from O’Connor and Tessa Jordan’s triple gave the Indians 17-16 halftime lead.
“Kerri Roberson played a great defensive game. We knew coming in what kind of player Rosie Williams was and she did a nice job defending her,” Ciminillo said. “Without her defensive efforts, we are not in this game at the end. We played good defense for the most part, good enough to let us have a chance at the end. This is the type of game you can build on. We want to use this game as a way forward the rest of the season.”
Coach Williams knows his team has to bounce back and learn the hard way how to come through in the end.
“We put ourselves in a position to win again today. We just have to figure out how to hit our free throws during the game, especially down the stretch,” Williams said. “It’s good we’re getting to the line like this but you have to take advantage of the chances. It comes down to us making use of what we’re doing, especially at the end. You have to keep adding to your lead when you have the opportunity, instead of letting them slip away. That can cost you games.”
Williams again had a good third period, scoring six points to pace the T-Birds in shooting 4-of-9. On the other end of the floor, the Indians struggled shooting the ball, netting 3-of-11. When Roberson nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with three seconds on the clock, that tied the score at 25-25 entering the fourth period.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.