JAMESTOWN —A tough zone defense, a rarified 3-pointer and a feisty freshman all helped Greeneview defeat Ohio Heritage Conference South division rival Cedarville, 44-39 in overtime, Dec. 20 in the Rams’ Gary Bradds Memorial Gym.
First, sophomore guard Rachel Strickle broke a 39-all tie with her only points of the night — a 3-pointer — from the left wing with just over three minutes left to play in the OT period. That gave the host Rams a 42-39 lead.
Freshman guard Ellie Snyder then was fouled while driving to the basket with 1:03 left to play. She hit the first of two free-throw attempts, then tied up Cedarville scoring threat Maggie Coe with a jump ball just eight seconds later. Snyder later snagged a rebound from a Coe three-point try and was fouled with 26.2 seconds left to play.
Finally, it was Kenzie Harding who sank the final point on a free throw with 1.7 ticks left on the clock to seal the win.
“I’m worn out, I can tell you that for sure,” Greeneview coach Tim Hoelle said. “Our kids played their butts off, and Cedarville played just as hard. To have two old rivals going at it and taking the game to overtime, I thought both teams played really well. They both played hard. That’s just a typical Greeneview-Cedarville matchup.”
With the win, Greeneview opens up a two-game lead over Cedarville in the OHC South Division standings. The Rams are now 6-1 overall, and 5-0 in the conference, while second-place Cedarville slips to 6-2 overall, 3-2 in the division. Both coaches said a two-game lead in what appears to be a wide-open OHC race could disappear in a couple week’s time.
“Kudos to Greeneview. In the first quarter, they tried to play us man-to-man (on defense) and we played really well. I thought we came ready to play, we were prepared,” Cedarville coach Josh Mason said. “Honestly, we talked about it during our last couple days of practice, and we knew they were going to go into a 2-3 zone defense. It was just a matter of when. We struggle with it. Kudos to them for making that adjustment against us.
“Now we just have to go back and learn from this. That’s the best thing about basketball, you just keep going. The train doesn’t stop, and you’ve just gotta keep rolling with it.”
Greeneview trailed 19-11 after that first quarter, when it tried guarding speedy Cedarville with a man-to-man defense. But once they went into a 2-3 zone, the defensive maneuver seemed to frustrate Cedarville from making inside breaks to the basket and forced them to lob more shots from long range. Hoelle said he realized the zone defensive strategy had worked a little bit against Cedarville last season, and so he decided to try it again.
“We went into the zone because they are so hard to guard man-to-man like that,” Hoelle said. “We prefer to play man-to-man, but sometimes you’ve just gotta go with your gut feeling and switch things when it needs switched up. … I’m just thankful that it gave them fits, to be honest.”
Harding led all scorers with 13 points scored. She drained four 3-pointers in the first half of Thursday night’s contest, was held scoreless in the second half of regulation, then hit her free throw with less than 10 seconds left to play in overtime. Ram teammates Sylvie Sonneman and Caitlin Sweat almost joined Harding in double-figure scoring as both finished with nine.
Cedarville’s Maggie Coe led the Indians with 12 points, while fellow senior Kaylee Cyphers was next with 10 points.
Greeneview will host Triad for an OHC afternoon game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 22 in the Rams’ gym. They then will host a two-day McDonald’s Holiday Tournament on Wednesday Dec. 26 and Friday Dec. 28.
Cedarville also is back into OHC play on Saturday. They’ll host Northeastern at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Indians won’t play again until next year, a Jan. 3 contest at West Jefferson.