DELPHOS — Delphos Jefferson’s Kaylee Buzard was determined to bring home an Northwest Conference title and it was her efforts in the final minutes against Spencerville that propelled the Wildcats to a 48-41 win Thursday night.
With Spencerville up 41-40 with 1:12 the Bearcats were looking to run out the clock and play the role of spoiler against their Route 66 rivals. However, Buzard stepped up with a big steal and went down and after missing her first shot, followed it up and got the stick back for the 42-41 lead.
On the ensuing inbounds pass Buzard produced her second steal and then got the ball and then found teammate Brooke Brinkman for the another basket with 36.1 seconds to pretty much secure the win.
“We deserve this so much,” Buzard said. “We put in the work every day. I just wanted it so bad for our team and I knew what I had to do for our team and do what ever it took to get the win.”
With the win, Jefferson got a share of the NWC title for the first time since 2012 with a 7-1 mark and goes to 18-4 on the season. The Wildcats share the title with Crestview which beat Paulding 57-51. The Knights finished 7-1 in the NWC.
“This is a dream come true for this team,” Jefferson head coach Denise Lindeman said. “They played with high standards and solid defense and true success came out tonight for these girls.”
Lindeman praised the efforts of Buzard and not just in the final minutes of the game but throughout the contest. Buzard had the task of defending Spencerville standout Emma Leis who finished with 14 points but were a hard earned as she blanked the Bearcat senior throughout the game.
“She knew all week she had to face Emma Leis and I told her to keep her in front and Kaylee Buzard played the game of her life,” Lindeman added. “I am so proud of these girls and it is great for this program.”
Spencerville finishes the season with13-9 overall and 5-3 in the NWC.
Spencerville head coach Greg Ekis knew this was going to be a close contest. Until the end, no team had a lead larger than four and that was Spencerville at halftime, 23-19.
In the second half, the teams exchanged leads seven times and was tied six times.
“Jefferson is a great team and you don’t get 18 wins without being a great team,” Ekis said. “They executed well and made some shots when they needed them. They had some nice stops defensively and they did a great job down the stretch.”
Spencerville’s Gabi Croft scored 10 points.
Buzard, who scored five points on the night, grabbed eight rebounds and made six steals
Jefferson freshman Lauren French was also a key component to the victory as the freshman recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Lyv Lindeman, despite having a tough night shooting, ended up with 11 points.