Champs At Last: Riders End 9-Year Sectional Title Drought

Members of the St. Marys Roughriders girls basketball team pose for a picture after their 45-36 sectional final win against  Bath on Saturday at Spencerville High School.
By: 
Jake Dowling
Sports Editor

Finally!

That was the sentiment that filled the air at Spencerville High School gym for everyone dressed in royal blue and gold.

For the first time in nine years, a St. Marys Roughriders girls basketball team won a sectional title and what better team to earn it against than Bath, a team that is 13-4 against the Roughriders dating back to 2005 and ended their season last year in a sectional final.

But for one night, the Riders are champs, sectional champions in a 45-36 sectional championship victory.

“These girls have really stepped up to the challenge and we played defense very well,” said Roughriders coach Jon Burke. “Tonight, we played as good defensively as anyone has in our area.
“I am excited about what we can do because we are playing really good defense.”

St. Marys led at the end of every quarter, starting with a 12-6 first-quarter lead as the Riders opened the game shooting 62.5 percent from the floor, a vast contrast from Thursday’s percentage of 0.06 percent.

Four players scored a point for St. Marys in the first, four points from Makenna Mele, a triple from Lauren Cisco, a bucket from Haley Felver and one point for Ally Will.

It was a sign of a total team contribution as St. Marys shot well enough on offense, 42  percent, and limited the Wildcats to 22 percent, including a 0.06 clip in the fourth quarter.

”It means so much, because it has been said for the last three years that, ‘hey, we can do it, we can do it’ and we just were never there,” said Sydney Cisco. “But tonight, we did it and it just feels so great and now all we can do is just keep going up.”

Defensive stalwart Aliya Patterson limited Bath’s Bette Andrews to a meager two points, as the 5-foot-9 senior forward fouled out with 53.1 seconds left in regulation. In their matchup Feb. 2, Andrews was limited to six points by Patterson, but broke out for 10 points in the fourth quarter in Bath’s 39-35 comeback win.

“The coaches told me that my responsibility was to shut her down and she was screaming in frustration off the court when she picked up those early two fouls in the first quarter,” Patterson said. “and seeing that really got us going throughout the rest of the game.”

The closest the Wildcats got to spoiling the Roughriders’ dream of a sectional title was in the early going of the third quarter when a pair of 3-pointers from Jaidyn Hale erased a 26-20 halftime lead to tie the game at 26-26, 1:49 into the second half.

Bath’s sharping shooting senior was limited to four points — a pair of trips to the free throw line — for the rest of the game.

The full story of Saturday's game will be in Monday's print edition of The Evening Leader.