By: Nate Calvin
WEST UNITY – They say defense wins championships and that theory was on full display at Hilltop High School on Thursday.
With both teams struggling to score, it was the Holgate defense that made the difference by holding Hilltop to just six points over the last three quarters and limiting Hilltop leading scorer Libbie Baker to only two points in the 28-17 win.
With the win, the Tigers earned a piece of their first BBC championship, sharing the crown with Hilltop.
“Couldn’t be prouder of this team and their tough gritty performance against a very good Hilltop team”, said head coach Scott Giesige.
“Our girls did a tremendous job defensively, especially after the first quarter. We were physical with them and made every possession tough and contested their drives and shots.”
“I must mention the effort by Madison Clark, our 5-9 senior post. She was matched up on her (Baker) all night.”
“Madi played tremendous defensively and played the entire game without leaving the floor. Now she didn’t do it all by herself though.”
“Our entire team defense was aware of where she was and did a fantastic job of attacking her dribble and doubling her in the post”, Giesige added.
Hilltop, who needed a win for an outright BBC title, started strong as treys by Jayma Bailey and Mia Hancock and a free throw by Molly Dickinson gave Hilltop a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers would get on the board with a three ball by Jordynn Altman and Olivia Blaker added a three-pointer to trim the Cadets lead to 9-6.
Libbie Baker closed the quarter with her only points of the night by going 2/2 at the foul line to increase the lead to 11-6 for the Cadets.
The cold shooting for both teams continued in the second quarter as they combined for 2/16 from the field with each making a field goal as Hilltop led at the break 13-9.
Madison Clark opened the third for the Tigers with a bucket before Hilltop would finally score around the 3:30 mark of the quarter on a Mia Hancock offensive rebound and Jayma Bailey drove the lane for a hoop to make it 17-11.
The Tigers began a 17-0 run to end the game with an offensive rebound basket by Altman and a layup by Lexa Schuller to draw within 17-15 entering the final frame.
A Schuller triple started the fourth as Holgate would take their first lead of the night at 18-17.
Schuller then added two free throws and a field goal to increase the Tiger lead to 24-17.
Holgate garnered the game’s final four points as Olivia Blaker closed the game going 4/4 at the charity stripe to cap off a 6/10 effort at the line in the final stanza for Holgate.
Hilltop (16-6, 6-1 BBC) finished 0/7 shooting with seven turnovers in the final quarter as Holgate (11-11, 6-1) outscored them 13-0.
Schuller tallied nine points on the night to lead the Tigers, seven of those coming in the decisive fourth.
Bailey and Hancock each had five points for the Cadets, who start tournament play on February 18 versus the winner of Pettisville-Montpelier (Feb. 15) in the Division IV sectional finals at Paulding High School.
HOLGATE (28) – Tijerina 2; O. Blaker 7; Fritz 0; Schuller 9; Altman 5; I. Blaker 3; Clark 2; Totals: 6-3-7 – 28
HILLTOP (17) – Brown 4; Dickinson 1; Routt 0; Baker 2; Bailey 5; Hancock 5; Totals: 4-2-3 – 17
GAME STATISTICS – Holgate: FG – 9/34 (26%); FT – 7/14 (50%); Rebounds – 29 (8 offensive); Turnovers – 20; HILLTOP: FG – 6/32 (18%); FT – 3/8 (38%); Rebounds – 23 (4 offensive); Turnovers – 17
HOLGATE 6 3 6 13 – 28
HILLTOP 11 2 4 0 – 17
Nate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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