PAULDING — Heading into Thursday’s game, the last two meetings between Bath and St. Marys in girls basketball have belonged to Bath.
However, the winning margin has been very small.
Bath won the previous two games against St. Marys by a total of three points, with both games going into overtime.
In Thursday’s Division II district semifinal game at Paulding High School, it looked like, once again, it might come down to another overtime scenario.
However, St. Marys made sure it didn’t come down to an extra session.
St. Marys claimed the lead in the fourth quarter and hung on for a hard-fought 43-35 victory over its Western Buckeye League rivals.
St. Marys (19-5) will face No. 1 seed Napoleon (24-0) in the district championship game Saturday night at Paulding. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Napoleon rolled past Wauseon 70-37, in Thursday’s first district semifinal at Paulding. Napoleon was ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press state poll this season.
“It feels good,” St. Marys coach Jon Burke said. “Three years ago, we hadn’t won a sectional final in nine years. We haven’t been to a district final, close to 20 years. … We’re proud of getting this far, but we also don’t want to just show up. We want to get past the weekend.”
Noelle Ruane led St. Marys with 11 points. Kendall Dieringer scored 10 points and had four steals. Ally Will had nine points and eight rebounds. Carly Caywood had six points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. Caywood was 6 of 6 shooting from the free throw line in the fourth quarter for the Roughriders.
Ruby Bolon and Ja’Dasia Hardison each had nine points for Bath (20-3). Hardison came away with six rebounds.
It was a see-saw first quarter as the game was tied twice, before St. Marys pulled out with an 11-10 lead by the first stop.
The Roughriders connected three times behind the 3-point line in the first eight minutes of action.
Bath was 4 of 12 shooting from the field in the first quarter. St. Marys connected on 3 of 7 from the floor.
Both teams turned it over in the first stanza. Bath turned it over five times, while St. Marys turned it over six times.
In the second stanza, the Roughriders pulled out to a 17-12 lead within the first three minutes. A 3-pointer by Will jump-started St. Marys.
For the quarter, St. Marys committed six turnovers (12 for the half). However, Bath could not capitalize on the early turnovers by the Roughriders.
Bath struggled at the offensive end, as it connected on just 2 of 13 from the floor.
St. Marys led 19-16 by the halftime break. The Roughriders’ largest lead in the first half was seven points.
In the first half, Bath was 6 of 25 from the field. St. Marys was 5 of 12.
Will had two 3-pointers for a total of six points in the first half for the Roughriders. Will also came away with six rebounds.
Hardison led Bath with six points and five boards in the first 16 minutes of action.
Bath came out aggressive to start the second half.
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Bath reclaimed the lead, 20-19, on a put back by Madelyn Renner (four points, six boards).
Then moments later, Renner scored again down low to give the Wildkittens a 22-19 advantage.
A 3-pointer by Esther Bolon pushed Bath’s lead to 4, 25-21 at the 3:30 mark of the third.
St. Marys battled back.
An inside move by Elena Menker, at the 2:06 mark, gave the Roughriders the lead back, 26-25.
Points were at a premium the rest of the third stanza, as the score was knotted at 27 by the third stop.
In the fourth quarter, the Roughriders claimed the early lead and were able to stave off the Wildkittens down the stretch.
For the game, St. Marys turned it over 15 times. Bath turned it over 10 times.
Bath shot just 25 percent from the field. St. Marys shot 42 percent from the floor.
“I can’t credit one kid,” Burke said about his team’s performance. “We knew this was a really good 3-point shooting team. … They can drive hard. That’s a hard team to defend. And I think our girls did a really nice job of cutting them off at the 3-point line, and then helping each other in securing rebounds, in the fourth quarter, specifically.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.