Fourth-Quarter Scoring Leads Riders Past Bulldogs

St. Marys’ Noelle Ruane attempts a putback layup during the third quarter of Thursday’s Western Buckeye League girls basketball game against Celina.
Sports Editor

There were times where the St. Marys Roughriders showed their youth and inexperience, and then there were times where they showed their youth and skill, and despite still being a young team on paper, this team has grown up throughout the course of the season as the postseason nears.

And these Riders picked a perfect time to grow up.

Trailing the majority of the game, the Roughriders overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit and outscored Celina 15-5 in the fourth quarter to win Thursday’s Western Buckeye League match 42-35.

It was a much-needed win for a team that endured an overtime-thrilling loss to rival Bath last week and lost mostly close game against St. Henry on Tuesday.

“I’m glad we came away with the win and I am proud of the girls’ composure,” Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. “I thought that Celina team gave us everything and I think their defense was better than what we anticipated.

“It was a rivalry win and we wanted to protect the lake. That is a big win for our team and to be able to battle back from a deficit and giving our team that experience will give our team confidence in the future that we can bounce back. This was a huge win for us.”

Earlier in the season, these Roughriders (10-10, 5-3 WBL) would get outscored in the fourth quarter and let games slip away. On Thursday, they outscored another team and it led them to a win against their biggest archival.

A 3-pointer by Noelle Raune tied the game at 30-30 and a 3-pointer by Lauren Cisco gave the Roughriders their first lead of the second half, 33-32, with 4:29 remaining in the game. That triple by Cisco began an avalanche of points for St. Marys — who outscored Celina (5-15, 2-6) 12-3 in the final 4:29. During that run however, Cisco took the ball into her own hands — much like she did in a win against Bellefontaine earlier this season — when the junior drove the ball in from the left side and put it up past Maddy Luebke with St. Marys leading just 38-35 with :15 seconds left.

“She did not.” Burke said when asked if she had the green light to attempt the shot. “But she sealed it and she put the game away for us. I have always told her that, ‘if you make it, I probably won’t yell at you for it.’”

Aside from Cisco’s gutsy layup, the 3-pointers aided the Roughriders down the stretch.

“In the beginning of the year, we were trying to hit too many 3s and we have since pulled back on that and really started to focus on kick-out 3s and good quality shots,” Burke said. “In the last fews games, we have really been shooting about eight 3s a game and tonight I know we shot more than that, but we were getting good looks too.

“I hope those shots are good confidence boosters coming down the stretch. I hope they (Cisco and Ruane) take that and mov forward with it and take it to the next level, Noey especially. She has a lot of good shots and she takes it off the dribble well.”

Leading 17-14 at the half, the Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a 5-0 advantage on a 3-pointer by Emma Lutz and a layup by Makenna Klingshirn as part of an 11-3 run by Celina.

Kendall Dieringer’s 3-pointer — her first points of the game — closed the deficit to 23-17 with 6:23 left in the third quarter, but a bucket by Klingshirn and a 3-pointer by Emily Braun pushed Celina’s lead to 28-17 with 4:14 remaining.

St. Marys pulled within six on a 3-pointer by Elena Menker and a bucket by Dieringer. After a pair of free throws by Klingshirn, Menker nailed another trey to pull within 30-25 and Ruane ended the third-quarter scoring with a pair of free throws as Celina missed its final eight shots of the quarter.

After Celina opened the third quarter with its 11-3 run, St. Marys ended it with a 10-2 advantage as the Roughriders rode their momentum into the final quarter. St. Marys closed the final 12:14 of the game out with a 25-7 advantage.