Defense helped the Margaretta girls move a bit closer to their first league title in a decade Tuesday night, shutting down Willard in a 55-29 Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division showdown.
“I thought our girls did a great job executing, slowing them down, clogging things up in the middle with the three big posts they have,” said Lady Bears coach Eric Kochendoerfer. “They really executed the game plan very, very well.”
Margaretta (15-2, 8-0) clamped down on the defensive end so well it limited the Lady Flashes to just seven points in the first half. Willard took an early 5-1 lead on a layup from Layla Dials and a three-pointer from Cassidy Crawford, then didn’t have another field goals until the 5:10-mark of the third quarter.
“We gave up six points in the first quarter and one in the second, and they have some studs in the post, such as the Crawford girl, Presley Feltner, and Lydia Wiers,” Kochendoefer said. “That’s three solid posts players there, but that’s also a testament on how hard our girls battle, how well they listen, how coachable they are and how they execute our game plan to a tee.
The Bears also forced 15 first-half turnovers on their way to a 22-7 halftime lead.
“We just weren’t executing, and when we did get shots, we weren’t knocking them down,” said Willard coach Jon Dawson. “It’s tough to overcome that. To hold them to 22 points in the first half, I thought our defense was keeping us in it, but for whatever reason, we couldn’t find a way to put the ball in the basket.”
After falling behind by a 30-9 margin in the first two minutes of the second half, the Flashes never got closer than 20 points the rest of the way.
“Credit Margaretta’s defense,” Dawson said. “They really get after you and take you out of your comfort zone.”
Crawford led Willard (10-3, 5-2) with 12 points and seven rebounds.
“If they win, we’re tied on top of the conference, so it was a big game for both teams,” Kochendoerfer said. “I couldn’t be prouder off the girls and their half-court defense. I thought we had them rattled and I thought we got them a little out of sorts in their sets. I’m just so pleased for these girls.”
Willard (10-3, 5-2)
Layla Dials 1-4—6; Cassidy Crawford 5-1—12; Lydia Wiers 1-1—3; Presley Feltner 1-0—2; Mckenna Stephens 1-2—4; Haylie Harmons 1-0—2. TOTALS 10-8—29.
Margaretta (15-2, 8-0)
Kennedi Hilton 3-5—11; Taylor Malson 5-0—11; Faythe Shetzer 2-0—5; Eliana Schaefer 2-0—4; Jayden Moore 5-1—12; Jennah Yost 2-0—4; Rockell Kuns 1-1—3; Tori Miller 1-0—2; Hannah Wiedenheft 1-1—3. TOTALS 22-8—55.
Willard 6 1 12 10 — 29
Margaretta 10 12 20 13 — 55
3-point FGs: (W: Crawford; (M) Malson, Shetzer, Moore.
JV: Margaretta 50-24