SPENCERVILLE – Spencerville’s game plan is to get out and push the tempo.
In Thursday’s Division III girls basketball sectional semifinal against visiting Perry, Spencerville did just that.
Spencerville led from start to finish, en route to a convincing 65-36 victory over Perry.
With the win, Spencerville will advance to Saturday’s sectional final matchup at Liberty-Benton High School against No. 2 seed Liberty-Benton, with tip-off set for 7 p.m.
Liberty-Benton soundly defeated Fostoria in its sectional semifinal Thursday, 73-28.
Spencerville (14-9) had three players score in double figures Thursday night.
Emma Leis led the Bearcats with 19 points, including two 3-pointers. Leis also came away with a game-high 14 rebounds, and made five steals at the defensive end.
Lilyan Goecke and Gillian Goecke (two 3-pointers) scored 15 and 14 points, respectively for Spencerville. Raigan Staup had nine points, three steals and three assists for the Bearcats.
Despite getting off to a subpar shooting performance early on, Spencerville finally found its range and put the game out of reach in the second half.
“We wanted to play our game, where we play pretty fast,” Spencerville head coach Greg Ekis said. “Unfortunately, we missed some shots early, that we typically make. But once we started to make those (close-range shots), we started to play a whole lot better.”
Mi’auni Hall led Perry (8-14) with 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Spencerville opened the contest on a 6-0 run.
But Perry did not go away.
The Commodores cut it to 2, 6-4.
However, the Bearcats responded and pulled out to a 13-6 lead by the end of the first quarter
Both teams struggled at the offensive end in the first eight minutes.
Spencerville was 6 of 24 from the field for 25 percent. The Commodores were 3 of 13 from the floor for 23-percent shooting.
“It (the pace) may have been too fast,” Ekis said about the first quarter. “It may also have been, because it’s the first time we’ve played a tournament game here. We may have been a little nervous. When I watched our warmups, we did not warm up that great. It just took us a little while to get into the flow of the game. The first quarter, we missed way too many shots – a lot of easy shots.”
Spencerville kept pushing the pace in the second quarter.
The Bearcats’ defensive pressure turned the Commodores over often, and converted most of those miscues into fast-break points.
Perry turned the ball over nine times in the second quarter, as Spencerville got out in transition and pulled out to a 30-14 advantage by the halftime break.
Lilyan Goecke led the Bearcats with 13 first-half points. Leis had eight points, six rebounds and four steals in the first two quarters.
Spencerville shot much better in the second quarter, and ended the first half 13 of 38 from the field for 34 percent. Perry was 7 of 26 from the floor for 27 percent.
Coming out of the locker room, the Bearcats kept pushing the tempo as their lead ballooned to 48-22 by the third stop.
The Commodores turned it over six more times in the third quarter.
For the game, Perry committed 22 turnovers. Spencerville turned it over 11 times.
“I think we were a little nervous,” Perry head coach John Berens said. “We just weren’t taking the ball strong (to the basket) and trying to finish. I think some of the youth shone through today, but they played hard. … I’ve come to expect no less from this group.”
For the game, Spencerville shot 39 percent from the field. Perry connected on 36 percent of its field goal attempts.
Spencerville held the edge on the boards, 43-33.
“We need to rebound, get it and go (in transition),” Ekis said. “We were able to do that tonight. When we push the ball well, we become a much better team.”
Ekis pointed to Leis’ versatility on the floor as one of the keys to his team’s success this season.
“She’s not just a scorer,” Ekis said about Leis. “She leads our team in every statistical category. She does a great job with rebounds, assists and steals. She does a whole lot of everything for us.”