Riders Deliver Big Shots In Win Over Bellefontaine

St. Marys’ Lauren Cisco (13) drives to the basket with Bellefontaine’s Taizha Collier (4) trailing during a non-league girls basketball game on Thursday.
Sports Editor

St. Marys needed a big shot in the fourth quarter and nine games into the 2018 calendar year, the Roughriders got their big shot.

Two big shots to be exact.

An Elena Menker 3-pointer at the 5:11 mark broke a 30-30 score and a drive-in bucket by Lauren Cisco sealed the deal in a 36-32 non-league victory against Bellefontaine on Thursday.

“I trust Lauren’s decision making most of the time; she’s lucky she made the shot,” Roughriders coach Jon Burke said jokingly. “Most of the time, I would say we need to hold the ball but she had a layup and if you have the layup, take it.

“It ended up being a key play for us.”

Through the first eight games, St. Marys (3-6) had been outscored 77-99 in the fourth quarter, losing close games to Wapakoneta, Ottawa-Glandorf, Kalida and Delphos St. John’s — all games where the Roughriders were outscored in the fourth quarter or overtime — and in each of those games, St. Marys needed just one shot to turn its fortunes around.

Leading 30-28 entering the fourth quarter, St. Marys lost the lead when Chalony Tollivers’ bucket tied the game with 5:53 left in regulation.

Menker answered on the other end with a trey to give the Roughriders a lead they never relinquished, but Cisco’s connection with 36.5 seconds left in the game was a recipe the Roughriders had been missing to date.

The Chieftains drew closer after a Taizha Collier’s free throw with 2:45 remaining and neither team recorded another basket until Cisco’s drive. As the Riders tried to run out the clock, Haley Felver had the ball under the basket and popped the ball out to Cisco, who grabbed the ball at the foul line and drove to the basket for the two points and foul.

“We had good leads in the first half and really shut down offensively in the second half and this was a growth game,” Burke said. “We kept our composure and we kept supporting each other, but tonight, we made the shot and that comes from getting good looks in the inside.”

With one game left in the 2018 calendar year on Saturday, the Roughriders’ record stands at 3-6, but the six losses came by a combined 47 points — an average margin of 7.8 points per loss.

The 2019 schedule is full of games against Western Buckeye League teams and games on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We have played good basketball in the first half, especially for a young team,” Burke said. “We haven’t finished every game, but we have been in every game and we have played some really good teams.

“So I am looking forward to the stretch here and I think that we have not peaked yet, which is a good sign as a coach looking at the season. I think defensively, we are playing pretty well, but offensively, we have a lot of room to grow and I think if we can put this all together in January, I am hoping that we will see a nice stretch here.”