VAN WERT — The second season is all about surviving.
Winning is all that matters, no matter how it looks.
It wasn’t always pretty, but Kalida was one of those girls basketball teams that did make it to another game Wednesday night, dispatching Jefferson out of the Division IV Sectional Tournament with a 56-46 triumph on the Cougars’ Den court of Van Wert High School.
The LadyCats (9-13) advance to take on Ottoville, an earlier victor of Fort Jennings, at 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Lady Wildcats bow out at 10-12.
Seven seniors played their final hardwood games in a Red and White uniform: Katie Goergens (17 counters on 3 treys, 8-of-9 singles; 5 boards; limited by foul trouble), Rileigh Stockwell (14 markers, 8 rebounds), Makayla Binkley (5 counters), Jasmine McDougall (2 boards), Lindsay Deuel, Hannah Sensibaugh (1 assists) and Gabby Pimpas (2 rebounds).
“Hannah and Makayla missed the first half of the season due to injuries and they worked hard to come back and play, even when it didn’t look like they would. Their injuries cost us continuity early on because they were back from last year but their return did help us,” Jefferson mentor Dave Hoffman explained. “Seven seniors is a big chunk of players to lose and they were all key parts of the team for at least the last two seasons, if not three. Overall, I was pleased with our efforts all season, especially later in the year when we finally got our complete team. We had our ups and downs but we started to be more consistent later on.”
There was one tie in this contest: 3-pointers by Kalida sophomore Brittany Kahle and Jefferson junior Brooke Culp (10 markers, 3 rebounds) to open the contest. Kalida sophomore Kylie Osterhage (7 markers, 5 boards) gave them the lead, only to see Goergens hit all three free throws while fouled on a 3-ball to give the Red and White their first — and last — lead. When Kalida senior Elizabeth Turnwald put them up 7-6, they never trailed again and there were no other ties. Kalida took advantage of its prowess on the backboards, outrebounding Delphos 43-24, and forcing six turnovers with its full-court press (13 for the game versus 16 of its own) and led by as much as five twice before taking a 16-12 edge on a steal and layin by junior Jackie Gardner (18 points, 6 boards, 4 steals).
The Maroon and White appeared on the verge of taking command in the second period, using five points each by Gardner and junior Nicole Recker in shooting out to a 29-15 advantage on a pair of singles by sophomore Allison Recker (14 markers, 10 boards) at 2:15. The Lady Jeffcats rallied with a 6-2 closing spurt, capped by a Culp freebie at 36.3 seconds, to get within 31-21.
“We definitely guarded them well in the first half. This was only Jackie’s sixth game this season; she was hurt all during the summer, a lot of the fall and quite a bit of basketball season,” LadyCat coach Adam Huber noted. “Jackie is such a competitor and we miss that when she’s not in there; she knows she isn’t completely back and doesn’t have her basketball legs yet. We anticipated that our starting five (Gardner, Turnwald, Osterhage, Kahle and Nicole Recker) tonight would do this all season but due to injuries, this was only their second time together.”
Delphos needed to toughen up on the backboards in the second half and they did better. However, they couldn’t get comfortable shooting the ball against the collapsing Kalida man defensive scheme in shooting 4-of-12 (12-of-43 overall, 6-of-20 long range). They did get within 31-26 on a Goergens rainbow at 1:45 but no closer the rest of the night. Kalida wasn’t much better in the third, tossing in 4-of-14 shots (20-of-52 for the game, 3-of-16 triples, for 38.6 percent) but when Allison Recker put back her own miss at 42 ticks, they led 42-33.
The Jeffcats needed to heat up in a hurry in the fourth to see their season prolonged by at least a game but they could not, notching 2-of-15, including 1-of-8 3-pointers. Three times they reduced their deficit to eight, the final time on a three point play by Stockwell on a drive at 1:14. However, the only points scored from then on were two foul shots by Gardner.
“We were much better defensively and rebounding the second half than the first. We gave up too much dribble penetration the first half and that opened up second and third shots for them,” Hoffman added. “We did better with those the second half; we forced them to shoot over the top more. Unfortunately, we missed some big shots and forced some shots. Once we had to go man, they exploited that.”
Kalida concluded with 13-of-17 free-throw shooting (76.5 percent).
“We tried to approach halftime as 0-0; Jefferson had been playing much better lately, beating a good Allen East team, for example, and we knew they’d up the intensity and come at us hard,” Huber added. “We started to rely too much on the 3-pointers in the third and that was credit to their defense for making us be impatient. We aren’t a great shooting team to begin with. We want the girls to shoot threes but good ones: moving the ball and executing the offense.”
Jefferson totaled 16-of-22 at the charity stripe (72.7 percent).
Jackie Gardner 7-3-18, Nicole Recker 2-0-5, Makenna Vorst 0-0-0, Brittany Kahle 2-1-6, Joni Kaufman 0-0-0, Kylie Osterhage 3-1-7, Elizabeth Turnwald 2-2-6, Katelyn Siebeneck 0-0-0, Allison Recker 4-6-14. Totals 17-3-13-56.
Heather Pohlman 0-0-0, Brooke Culp 3-3-10, Lindsay Deuel 0-0-0, Katie Goergens 3-8-17, Rileigh Stockwell 4-5-14, Hannah Sensibaugh 0-0-0, Gabby Pimpas 0-0-0, Shelby Koenig 0-0-0, Makayla Binkley 2-0-5, Jasmine McDougall 0-0-0, Tori Black 0-0-0. Totals 6-6-16-46.
Score By Quarters:
Kalida 16 15 11 14 - 56
Jefferson 12 9 12 13 – 46
Three-point goals: Kalida, Gardner, N. Recker, Kahle; Jefferson, Goergens 3, Culp, Stockwell, Binkley.