BLUFFTON — Kalida’s defensive pressure set the tone early.
Kalida jumped on Pandora-Gilboa quickly in the opening round of the Division IV girls sectional basketball tournament, and led from start to finish, en route to a convincing 57-36 victory Thursday at Bluffton University.
Kalida (16-7) will play North Baltimore (12-9) Saturday at 8 p.m. at Bluffton University. In Thursday’s second sectional semifinal game at Bluffton University, North Baltimore slipped past Continental, 46-40.
Three players scored in double figures for Kalida (16-7) Thursday night.
Grace Klausing, McKayla Maag and Brooke Vennekotter each scored 10 points for Kalida. Klausing also came away with nine rebounds and three steals. Vennekotter and Maag each had two 3-pointers. Brenna Smith added seven points for the Wildcats.
Lacie Fenstermaker led the way for Pandora-Gilboa (2-21) with 10 points, and had a game-high 15 rebounds. Regan Russell added eight points for the Rockets.
Kalida’s defensive pressure wreaked havoc right from the start.
P-G turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter, and then seven more times in the second. P-G ended the game with 23 miscues.
Kalida pushed out to an 18-4 lead by the end of the first quarter. From that point, P-G never fully recovered.
“I think that start was pretty big for us,” Kalida coach Adam Huber said. “I think we set the tone, right away. To get a big lead like that was huge.”
Kalida pushed the tempo from the opening tip, and raced out to the 14-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
Maag led Kalida with eight first-quarter points.
The Rockets struggled as they were just 1 of 7 shooting from the field.
Kalida extended its lead to 29-14 by the halftime break.
P-G was limited on its shot attempts. The Rockets were just 3 of 6 from the floor in the second quarter. P-G ended the half, 4 of 13 from the floor.
Becca Luttfring scored six of the Rockets’ 14 points in the first half.
Maag ended the half with 10 points for the Wildcats.
P-G came out strong to start the second half.
With 5:32 left in the third quarter, the Rockets cut the deficit to 9, 31-22, on an inside move by Fenstermaker.
P-G connected on four of its first five field-goal attempts in the third quarter.
But Kalida had an answer.
Vennekotter jump-started her team, as she connected twice behind the 3-point line to push Kalida back out to a 15-point lead, 37-22.
Kalida led 44-26 at the third stop.
“She (Vennekotter) had a big stretch for us there,” Huber said. “She’s been coming on all year.”
P-G could not recover after Kalida’s third-quarter run.
“Our team is so young and we’re still learning things,” P-G coach Kathleen Dysert said. “Their second-half lead, we cut into it a little bit. Then, they hit a couple threes, and I think it got into our heads again.”
Kalida struggled from the field in the fourth quarter, as it connected on just 3 of 14 shots from the floor.
However, the deficit was too much to overcome for the Rockets.
For the game, Kalida shot 36 percent from the field. P-G connected on 37 percent of its field goal attempts. The Wildcats got off 23 more shot attempts than the Rockets.
Kalida turned the ball over 13 times.
“We kind of figured it might be like this. … We haven’t played in a week,” Huber said. “We played them (56-23 win over P-G) just a couple weeks ago. We thought we could get to them pressure-wise. We forced a lot of turnovers. We just went through a stretch where we didn’t hit our shots. We had some looks, but didn’t hit them; and we had some silly turnovers.”
Kalida won the boards, 39-34.
“At this time of the year, you really don’t care. … As long as we have more points at the end of the game, that’s all that matters,” Huber said with a grin.
North Baltimore 46,
Thursday’s second sectional semifinal game at Bluffton University between North Baltimore and Continental was a tightly-contested game.
North Baltimore (12-9) finally slipped out with a hard-fought six-point victory over Continental (11-12).
Cate Fetter led Continental with 14 points, including two 3-pointers. Maddi Potts added eight points for the Pirates.
Leah Lee led North Baltimore with 15 points, including five treys. Mia McCartney scored 12 points, including 7 of 7 shooting from the free throw line. Grace Hagemyer added 11.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.