DISTRICT SEMIFINAL … Stryker’s Lexi Wickerham puts up a shot while an Ayersville defender challenges. (PHOTOS BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
DISTRICT SEMIFINAL … Ellie Grieser takes a runner in the lane for the Blackbirds in the first half.
By: Daniel Cooley
DEFIANCE – The final two Buckeye Border Conference girls basketball teams saw their seasons come to an end in the district semifinals at Defiance High School.
In the opener, Stryker fell in a close one to Ayersville, 39-34 and in the nightcap, top seeded Convoy Crestview topped surprising Pettisville, 56-36.
Pettisville had reached the district semis by topping BBC co-champion Hilltop in the sectional finals.
The opening contest featured 10 lead changes before Ayersville outscored Stryker 9-5 in the final two minutes.
Ultimately, what won the game for Ayersville was its defense, which held Sage Woolace, Stryker’s leading scorer, to less than 10 points.
“We employed a new defense in practice this week, a 1-1-3 defense and then whenever Sage caught the ball, we double teamed her and made her give up the ball,” said Ayersville coach Tim Nicely.
“That part worked, as we held Sage to just seven points. Give Stryker credit, some of their other girls stepped up.”
“For us, we had trouble scoring, but Kendra Waldron had her best game ever for us, with 10 points. Overall, we had eight different girls score for us, which I’m happy about.”
Ayersville (18-6) will face Crestview (20-4) for the district championship on Saturday IN Defiance, at 6 p.m.
Stryker, thanks to two three pointers from Lexi Wickerham, jumped out to a 7-4 lead after one quarter.
With Stryker clinging to an 11-9 lead in the second period, Waldron hit a trey to put Ayersville up 12-11.
With Stryker up by one on after another Wickerham basket, Neva Sheets’ three pointer put Ayersville up, 15-13.
Woolace made two free throws to tie the game at 15-15, but Zamira Young’s free throw put Ayersville up at the half 16-15.
The two teams traded the lead four times in the third, before Wickerham’s third trey tied the game at 24-24. But Kiersten Manon’s bucket put Ayersville up, 26-24, after three periods.
After two more lead changes in the fourth period and with Ayersville leading, 30-29, Waldron’s trey put Ayesville up, 33-29.
Woolace made one of two free throws to cut Ayersville’s lead to 33-30, with two minutes left. However, a Waldron free throw and two more free throws from Sheets put Ayersville up, 36-30.
After Gabby Ramon’s free throw cut the Lady Pilot’s lead to 36-31, two more Sheets charity tosses put Ayersville up 38-31.
Emma Fulk knocked down a three-pointer with 14 seconds left to bring the score to 38-34.
However, McGuire’s free throw brought the final score to 39-34. Wickerham led Stryker (17-7) with 13 points.
“This game was a challenge with Ayersville’s length and Sage is not used to being double and triple teamed,” said Stryker coach Conner Varner.
“But she still took the ball to the basket. As a team, we executed our game plan. But it just didn’t work out for us.”
In the nightcap, Crestview led by just 10-7 after one period, but outscored Pettisville, 12-3 in the second period to take a 22-10 halftime lead.
Pettisville closed the Crestview lead to 14-10 after Olivia Miller’s basket, but Crestview closed out the quarter by scoring eight straight points.
In the third quarter, Pettisville got within 26-14 after Amanda Grimm’s basket. But Crestview then went on another 8-0 run to go up, 34-14. Crestview led, 42-21 after three periods.
In the fourth period with Crestview leading, 48-25, Pettisville made one last run. Two Miller free throws and a three-point play from Grimm cut the Crestview lead to 48-30.
But a Laci McCoy free throw and a dagger three pointer from Kline put Crestview back up by 22, 52-30.
Crestview put three players in double figures, with Cali Gregory garnering 23 points, Kline nailing down 14 points and McCoy adding 13 points. Pettisville (13-11) was paced by Miller’s 10 points.
“The girls made a turnaround this year, after winning just three games each year over the last two years,” said Pettisville coach Jason Waldvogel.
“Today, give a lot of credit to Crestview. They are the best team we’ve played all year. But our girls fought hard the whole game and never gave up.”
“We have a lot of players coming back and we had a good JV team this year, so we look forward to next year.”
STRYKER (34) – Woolace 7; Fulk 5; Ruffer 0; Wickerham 13, Ramon 3, Rethmel 6; Oberlin 0; Totals: 4-6-8 – 34
AYERSVILLE (39) – McGuire 6; Becher 2; Waldron 10; Sheets 7; Dockery 2; Schindler 3; Manon 7; Young 2; Totals: 6-6-9 – 39
THREE-POINT GOALS: Stryker – Wickerham 3, Rethmel 2, Fulk; Ayersville – Waldron 3, McGuire, Sheets, Schindler; Rebounds – Stryker 21 (Rethmel 5); Ayersville 25 (Schindler 7); Turnovers – Stryker 10; Ayersville 11
STRYKER 7 8 9 10 – 34
AYERSVILLE 4 12 10 13 – 39
PETTISVILLE (36) – Grieser 8; Grimm 5; Miller 10; King 5; Beck 5; Crawford 1; Wiemken 2; Totals: 12-1-9 – 36
CRESTVIEW (56) – Kline 14; Gregory 23; McCoy 13; Crider 4; J. Kulwicki 2; Totals: 18-5-5 – 56
THREE-POINT GOALS: Pettisville – King; Crestview – Kline 2, Gregory 2, McCoy; Rebounds – Pettisville 21 (Beck 4); Crestview 31 (Gregory 7); Turnovers – Pettisville 11; Crestview 16
PETTISVILLE 7 3 11 15 – 36
CRESTVIEW 10 12 20 14 – 56
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org