ST. MARYS –St. Marys began postseason play the way it ended the regular season with a convincing 56-33 win over Celina in the Division II girls basketball sectional opener Wednesday night.
St. Marys, the No., 4 seed, improves to 17-5 and will play the No. 3 seed Bryan Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bryan. Celina ends its year with a 2-19 mark.
In the previous meeting, the Roughriders downed Celina 48-25 and it was more of the same in this contest as St. Marys, thanks to a smothering defense and some precision shooting, broke out to an early lead to garner control of the game.
“We were shooting the ball real well,” St. Marys head coach Jon Burke said. “We were moving the ball real well and getting it in the paint and Cora Rable hit some big shots in the first quarter and had a real nice first half.”
After the first period, St. Marys owned a 24-8 advantage. Offensively, the Roughriders were a efficient 10 of 13 from the floor and did it by hitting 3-pointers as well as unselfish play by finding teammates underneath the basket for easy layups.
Roughrider Kendall Dieringer scored a team-high 21 points. In addition to hitting a trio of treys, the St. Marys point guard recorded five steals and converted a number of them into easy buckets. Cora Rable added 10 points.
In the first eight minutes, the Roughriders nailed four 3-pointers and had six by halftime and eight for the game.
“I was very happy with the efficiency of our offense,” Burke said. “It is something that we have been working on and it just comes down to making shots and these girls have been putting time in the gym and so that due to their hard work on and off the floor.”
Celina was having the opposite type of shooting performance from behind the 3-point arc as the Bulldogs were 0 for 7. For the game, the Bulldogs were 2 of 15 from treyland.
“They hit a lot of shots in the first quarter and we got off to a slow start,” Celina head coach Branden Rushton said. “I think we played a lot better (after the first quarter) but it is tough to climb out a hole like that. We got the looks that we wanted and executed our offense it just wasn’t our night and the ball wasn’t bouncing our way.”
The Bulldogs ended up with 11 turnovers in the first half as they fell behind 36-13 going into the third quarter.
Celina’s Taylor Klingshirn finished with 7 points and teammate Kyilla Billingsley scored 7 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.
Burke and his team understands the postseason road gets much more difficult this Saturday against Bryan and he said his girls are focused in beating a Bryan team that was seeded higher than they were despite the Roughriders beating them earlier in the season 46-39.
“This is a team that brings it and has a competitive energy,” Burke said. “I think they feel slighted because we got a fourth seed and Bryan got a three seed and they feel that. We were all upset the night of the seeding and we are ready for Bryan but also know that we are not just going to go there and beat them down. It is going to be a game that is going to come down to the fourth quarter and who has the energy at the end.”