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Western pulls away in fourth for road conference win

By JOSH MORGRET • Updated Dec 28, 2018 at 1:10 AM

NORWALK — St. Paul used a run of seven straight points to take a lead over Western Reserve in the third quarter on Thursday.

From there, the Roughriders went to their bread and butter to seize the lead and never look back.

Cora Wyers tallied 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks to lead Western Reserve to a key 49-41 Firelands Conference win over the Lady Flyers inside the Harvey Keller Gymnasium at the convocation center in Norwalk.

"St. Paul did some stuff to us defensively," Western Reserve coach Brenda Friend said. "We were not turning the ball over against their press, but when we got up on our end, we could not seem to get into our sets or get comfortable."

Emma Blankenship's bucket tied the game at 24 with 2:58 left in the third quarter before Wyers asserted herself for the 'Riders (6-1, 5-0). She completed back-to-back three-point plays for a 30-24 lead.

Morgan Baxter scored at the buzzer to get St. Paul (6-3, 3-2) within four points after three quarters, but the 'Riders controlled the beginning of the fourth quarter. Wyers scored before four straight free throw makes by Blankenship opened a 36-26 lead with 5:32 left.

"Cora took over for us," Friend said. "She is a great leader. Her and Katie Hipp as seniors have that experience under pressure. Katie is getting stronger for us each time out."

A 3-pointer by Danielle Smith finally got the Flyers on the board in the fourth quarter. After Western Reserve committed one of its 15 turnovers, Camille Endsley hit a jumper and suddenly, St. Paul was back within five points.

But, the aggressiveness of the 'Riders was too much for St. Paul to handle in the fourth quarter. Getting to the line seemingly on every possession down the stretch, Western Reserve hit 15-of-22 free throws in the fourth quarter including a streak of eight in a row.

"The thing that sticks in my mind is our free throw shooting down the stretch," Friend said. "That is a difference maker right there."

St. Paul battled foul trouble all night that was only made worse in the fourth quarter.

"They have the bigs and they know how to use them," St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl said. "We did a decent job on their outside shooters tonight. Cora had 20 and that is not really what we wanted. You have to give her credit for doing what she can do."

It looked like the 'Riders were going to run away with the game as Wyers scored twice before Hipp tallied a layup to open the game.

But, for as quickly as the offense came, it went away as the Lady Flyers settled in. Baxter drilled a 3-pointer and Endsley's two free throws tied the game. After a 5:40 scoreless drought, Hipp hit a jumper to put Western Reserve up 8-6 after eight minutes.

The second quarter saw back-and-forth action as the lead changed hands six times. Western Reserve took a 16-13 lead only to see scores from Baxter and Endsley give St. Paul a one-point lead. But, Hipp scored with six seconds left in the half to push the 'Riders ahead, 17-16, at halftime.

"It was a good ballgame," Mahl said. "They got some looks on the inside that we expected them to go to. We got into foul trouble. We had one little lapse, but for the most part, we played hard for 32 minutes."

Wyers connected on two free throws and Blankenship's driving layup extended the Western Reserve lead to 22-17 just over a minute into the third quarter.

From there, the Flyers controlled the game as Anna Lukasko scored her only bucket, Megan Hammersmith scored off of an offensive rebound, and Smith drilled a 3 for a 24-22 lead with 4:07 left in the third quarter, prompting a timeout by Friend.

St. Paul made 4-of-22 3-pointers on the night.

"On a night where we are hitting 3s, that could have been bad for them," Mahl said. "We missed some that sometimes we normally make. If we are hitting and they want to do that to us, I tell my kids to go ahead and shoot."

Hammersmith paced the Flyers with 12 points while grabbing five rebounds. Smith added 11 points and six rebounds while Baxter scored nine points before fouling out.

"We have to take care of ourself until we play again," Mahl said. "So, we have to travel. We have to travel there and we have to travel to Crestview."

Hipp totalled 12 points with Blankenship adding eight points for Western Reserve. Hipp, Blankenship, and McKenna Woodruff each grabbed five rebounds.

"We needed a game exactly like this," Friend said. "I am glad to say we won it. I think it could have went either way. Good teams expose your weaknesses, but I am glad we got out of here with the win."

The Flyers shot four free throws in the first quarter, but not any more until 16.6 seconds left in the game.

WESTERN RESERVE (6-1, 5-0)

Katie Hipp 3-6—12, McKenna Woodruff 0-4—4, Emma Blankenship 2-4—8, Cora Wyers 7-6—20, Avery Tubbs 1-1—3, Emma Weber 1-0—2. TOTALS 14-21—49.

ST. PAUL (6-3, 3-2)

Morgan Baxter 4-1—10, Anna Lukasko 1-0—2, Megan Hammersmith 6-0—12, Danielle Smith 3-2—11, Camille Endsley 2-2—6. TOTALS 16-5—41.

W. Reserve 8 10 12 19 — 49

St. Paul       6 11  9  15 — 41

3-point FGs: (STP) Smith 3, Baxter

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