It may have been just a Tuesday night, non-league game, but there was a bit of a playoff atmosphere at the St. Paul Convocation Center as the Lady Flyers hosted Fremont St. Joe in girls' basketball action.
It was close from start to finish, but the Lady Streaks had just enough firepower in the end to defeat the Lady Flyers 44-39.
The Lady Streaks improved to 10-1 on the season, while St. Paul dropped to 7-7. The two teams could meet again on the tournament trail. St. Joe should be the top seed at the Norwalk High School Division IV sectional tournament, slated for mid-February.
Others in the six-team tournament are Monroeville (8-5), Plymouth (7-6), St. Paul (7-7), Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic (6-7) and South Central (3-10).
The Lady Flyers were behind most of the game but had a chance to get back in it when they trailed 37-35 midway through the final quarter.
"We had five straight turnovers," St. Paul coach Steve Hill said. "But credit the girls. We played great defense down the stretch.
"We need to take quality shots and it came down to us taking care of the basketball. We knew the pressure was coming and you have to take care of the pressure. We have to be mentally ready to play and we have to play with some composure.
"We talked before the game and we talked about it at practice yesterday that we need to make a statement against the good teams. We were right with them tonight basket for basket."
St. Joe led at every break 13-8 after one quarter, 23-21 at the intermission and 33-30 after three quarters. Senior Stacia Fritz led another balanced St. Paul attack with 39 points, followed by Victoria Spaar with eight, Lauren Nickoli with six and Ashley Smith with five.
Sandra Beaschler scored 11 points to lead the Lady Streaks.
"All in all I am very happy with our intensity," Hill said. "We made them work for their shots. We outrebounded them but the turnovers were the key (23-14)."
The Lady Flyers, 6-3 in the Firelands Conference, return to FC action Thursday at Ashland Crestview (10-3, 7-2). The teams stand 2-3 behind undefeated Western Reserve (13-0, 9-0) in the league race.
"We are going to see a lot of the same Thursday," Hill said. "The tough thing is we can not simulate that speed in practice."
Hill said his team is looking to fine tune its game heading into the tournament and he likes the direction the Lady Flyers are heading.
"They are getting better believing in themselves and their teammates," he said.
St. Paul won the reserve game 37-22. Jessica Harvey led the Lady Flyers (8-4, 6-1) with nine points.