CELINA — When Elida’s shots weren’t falling, Elida head coach Elise Jenkins instructed her squad to pick up the defensive intensity.
Elida’s defensive pressure suffocated Celina at the offensive end, which enabled Elida to pull away for a convincing 36-10 Western Buckeye League victory over Celina Thursday in girls basketball at the Celina Fieldhouse.
The visiting Bulldogs pressured the home Bulldogs into 26 turnovers on the night.
Offensively, Elida shot 32 percent from the field. However, Celina struggled all night as it shot just 14 percent from the floor (4 of 28).
“They (Celina) did a good job (defensively) in the first half,” Jenkins said. “We weren’t sure if they were in man, or if they were in zone. So, they shut us down. Our shots weren’t going in, during the first half. But I told the girls, I said, ‘Ladies, defense always gets you out of holes. So, create your offense through the defense and stay buckled down’.
“They turned up the heat in the second half and got some steals and easy baskets. You could just feel the momentum shift after those quick, easy baskets.”
Freshman Addisyn Freeman led Elida (7-6, 2-2 WBL) with 12 points, including three 3-pointers. Rachel Mitchell, a 6-foot post player, had nine points, six rebounds and two blocks. Amira Freeman added eight points, five boards and two steals for Elida.
The loss Thursday for Celina was its first WBL blemish on the season (3-1 WBL, 3-8 overall).
Neither team could get into any kind of rhythm at the offensive end in the first quarter – or for that matter – most of Thursday’s contest.
However, Elida was able to gain the early advantage as it scored the first six points on the night.
Elida’s defensive pressure got to Celina as it forced seven first-quarter turnovers.
Celina did not get on the scoreboard until the 3:01 mark, when Maria Lutz (three points, eight rebounds) made 1 of 2 shots from the free throw line, that cut the Elida lead to 6-1.
Moments later, Elida stretched its lead to 8, 9-1, on a 3-pointer from the top of the key from Addisyn Freeman, who went on to score five points in the first eight minutes of action.
Celina was 0 for 8 shooting from the field in the first quarter.
Both teams continued to struggle from the field in the second stanza.
Elida connected on just 2 of 12 from the floor, while Celina connected on just 2 of 10 on its field-goal attempts.
For the half, Celina was 2 of 18 from the field for 11 percent. Elida was 6 of 24 for 25 percent.
In the first half, Elida cut off the passing lanes at every opportunity and forced 12 Celina turnovers.
Elida outscored Celina 14-0 in the third stanza, to pull out to a 27-6 advantage.
Celina struggled to get shots off as it was 0 for 2 from the field in the third quarter. Celina turned the ball over eight more times during that stretch. Mitchell led Elida in the third period with seven points.
Elida committed just nine turnovers on the night.
“I’m really proud at how the girls played as a team,” Jenkins said. “We had a starter that was hurt, and the girls stepped up. It’s good to have a lot of threats on our team, right now.
“When they get their defense going, they’re a really fun team to watch. They wanted this one, tonight. … They wanted to make a statement; and I think they did.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.