BARBERTON — Either the St. Thomas Aquinas girls basketball team played great defense or Black River was horrible on offense. Or both.
The Knights beat the Pirates 32-22 Monday night in the Barberton Division III Sectional, holding Black River to four points in the first half and none in the second quarter.
The Pirates (5-18) got a fast-break basket by Megan Scott to take a 4-3 lead with 3:16 remaining in the opening period, but they did not score again in the first half.
“We couldn’t make a shot,” Black River coach Ken Deidrick said. “We fell behind and the girls got impatient, forcing up bad shots as if they were trying for a seven-point basket instead of relaxing and just working for an easy two-pointer.”
The Pirates were 2-for-19 from the field in the first half, when they also committed 15 turnovers while trying to solve the full-court trapping of St. Thomas Aquinas (6-17).
“We haven’t run the press that much, but we scouted Black River and felt if we could keep the ball out of (Savanna Slone’s) hands, we may be able to force a few turnovers,” Knights coach Rob Rhodes said.
Before the Pirates recovered from their early troubles, they were down 15-4 early in the second half. A 10-3 run on two baskets by Morgan Leach (6 points,
11 rebounds) and single hoops from Scott, Angie Kazek and Slone trimmed the deficit to 18-14.
“I thought we would get back in the game after that run,” Diedrick said. “We were playing more relaxed and making our shots.”
With 6:23 remaining in the game, Black River was down 24-19 and had an easy shot under the basket. The attempt went astray and the Knights’ Sydney Film (9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) took over.
Film hit the only trey in the game, followed with a basket from close range and finished with a great assist to Clarissa Jovinga to push the margin to 31-19, sending the Knights into a sectional championship Wednesday against second-seeded Waterloo.
“We haven’t been in a position this year to work on protecting a lead at the end of the game, so this was different for us,” Rhodes said. “Our sophomore (Film) took it upon herself to finish off the game.”
Black River held a 28-20 edge on the boards, but its 10 offensive rebounds didn’t lead to a single point.
“We did well on the boards, but we did not take advantage of our chances,” Deidrick said. “This season is now over, but you can bet one of our top priorities next year will be scoring in the post and taking advantage of rebound opportunities. Our inability to do that tonight added to our downfall.”
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