By John Bombatch
JAMESTOWN — In a physical, foul-plagued, nip-and-tuck battle with his Ohio Heritage Conference rivals, Cedarville first-year coach Josh Mason just needed to get his key players all in the game at the same time.
When he finally did get those players all on the court together with 5:13 left in the game, the visiting Indians reeled off a 9-0 scoring run to claim a 51-46 win over host Greeneview.
“It took us awhile to get our starting five back in, because of all our foul troubles. But in the fourth quarter, I finally had ‘em, to where we could run our offensive sets. Things started opening up. These girls battled with three fouls, four fouls, but they stayed in the game and continued to play hard. … We preached in the game to not foul out and to be disciplined enough to stay in there and play, and I think we accomplished that today.”
A physical battle is pretty common when these two teams play each other, and Saturday’s game was no different. Cousins — Kyla Harding for Cedarville and Kenzie Harding of Greeneview — both fouled out, as did Cedarville’s Becky Crew. Cedarville’s Hayley Melton played all but 1:12 of the second half with four fouls.
The final quarter began with the two OHC foes knotted up at 33-all, but Cedarville (2-0) reeled off a 6-2 mini run to start the quarter and go out in front by four points, 39-35.
Then with Mason’s starters all on the floor, the Indians were able to pull away for good. First, Ise Bolender hit the back end of two free throws with 5:13 left to play. Then, Melton scored off a backdoor pass from Crew, and Maggie Coe drove the left baseline for another score. Crew then put in a shot with 3:27 to play to put Cedarville out in front, 46-39.
By the time Bolender hit her next two free throws (after drawing a fourth foul on Rams sharpshooter Faith Strickle), the Indians were in command, 48-42.
Greeneview got within three points (49-46) when Frankie Fife drove in from the left side for a score with 50.4 seconds left to play, but Cedarville’s Coe hit a pair of free throws with 13.9 ticks left to go to round out the scoring.
Strickle drained five 3-pointers in the game to finish with a team-high 15 points for the Rams, and Fife ended up with 11 points.
Bolender led the Indians with 16 points, Coe finished with 12 and Melton tossed in 10.
“In that spot in the game, the timing of that run was perfect for them. That’s what they needed to do,” Greeneview coach Tim Hoelle said. “Even during that run, I thought our defense was pretty good. They were just more aggressive. They got to the free-throw line and converted them.”
The Indians hit 8 of 12 free-throw tries in the final quarter.
Cedarville players and fans alike milled about the court after the game, taking pictures and basking in the rare glow of a road win over their respected OHC rivals.
“With them being 15 minutes away, and we’ve got family members on both teams. It’s a crazy rivalry,” Mason said. “But at the end of the day, I’m just so proud of these girls. They did all the work, the passing, scoring and rebounding. I’m just the guy on the sidelines. I’m happy for these girls, they deserved this win. They earned it.”’
Cedarville plays Springfield Northeastern on Thursday, and South Charleston Southeastern on Saturday. Greeneview plays at Southeastern on Thursday before hosting London Madison Plains on Saturday.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.