The state-ranked Lady Red never expanded on the lead and ultimately, third-quarter turnovers doomed in Bellevue.
Aurora got 24 points from sophomore Shyanne Sellers and rode that to a 56-52 victory over the Lady Red in the 16th annual Classic in the Country on Monday at Hiland High School.
"I think the turnovers and transition defense hurt us," Bellevue coach Kory Santoro said. "We had to have given up 10 to 12 points in transition. That is something in our scouting report that we were preaching."
The Lady Red (13-2) surged ahead, 33-32 after a 3-pointer from Cory Santoro on the left side and later 35-34 when Casey Santoro scored, but the Greenmen (15-1) fought back. Haley Ross and Shyanne Sellers scored to put Aurora up 38-35 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Dylynn Lasky scored off of one of Bellevue's 14 turnovers before Shayla Sellers hit a jumper.
But, Bellevue did not go quietly. Casey Santoro hit a pair of free throws and Cory Santoro scored to cut the lead to 42-39, but the Lady Red would get no closer.
A 3-point play by Shyanne Sellers doubled the lead. The Greenmen consistently got fast break opportunities after a Bellevue shot - whether it went in or not. It often led to easy layups for Aurora.
"They like to push the ball up the floor — especially Sellers," coach Santoro said. "We knew she could see the floor real well. We kept getting beat on the long pass down the court. That is just totally uncharacteristic for our team. We know better than that."
Three consecutive layups by the Greenmen came 10, five, and eight seconds after scores by Bellevue.
"I felt like that is where they got us," coach Santoro said. "We have to do a better job of playing in big time moments like this."
The Lady Red had empty possessions late in the game, allowing Aurora to open a 56-47 lead. Casey Santoro hit a 3 and Cory Santoro tallied a layup late, but it was not enough.
The 6-foot Sellers guarded Casey Santoro late in the game, often not allowing Santoro her typical array of moves.
The two teams battled pretty evenly for the majority of the first half. Aurora opened a 14-9 lead after a 3 from Dalton, but Gabrielle Turner fed Riley Mohr for an easy hoop, cutting the Greenmen lead to three points after eight minutes.
Aurora pushed it back to five points early in the second quarter, but Turner hit a small jumper before consecutive buckets by Cory Santoro gave Bellevue their first lead of the game at 17-16 with 5:27 left in the second quarter.
Aurora battled back and re-took a four-point lead only to see the Lady Red surge ahead again on the strength of back-to-back buckets by Mohr and Casey Santoro. The Greenmen took a 28-24 lead into halftime after Shyanne Sellers hit a jumper then drilled a 3 from the top of the arc.
"We did not get to come out and play like we like to," coach Santoro said. "We wanted to get up and down the floor and press just because of their good ball-handling. I thought we played with good pace."
Neither team shot a free throw in the first half.
"I was not worried about Aurora," coach Santoro said. "That tells me we are keeping them from driving in the lane. For us, we were not being very aggressive attacking the basket. That is one thing in the board every day is to attack and get to the free throw line."
Mazanec scored off of a Bellevue turnover to open the third quarter, but the Lady Red went on a 9-2 run to take a 33-32 lead with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
Shyanne Sellers paced the Greenmen with 24 points and five rebounds while Shayla Sellers added 11 points. Shyanne Sellers is an AAU teammate with Cory Santoro in the SMAC organization.
Casey Santoro topped the Lady Red with 23 points while Cory Santoro tallied 15 points.
"I think this is one of the best events in the United States as far as girls basketball is concerned," coach Santoro said. "The Ohio Girls Basketball Report does a great job running this and I appreciate the opportunity to come down here and play in a big-time environment."
All the goals for Bellevue is yet in front of them including a ninth straight league championship.
"I think we can play a lot better than this," coach Santoro said. "This was not a make or break game for us. We told the girls that in the locker room. All of our goals are still in front of us. We will learn from this game and get better from it."
Cory Santoro 7-0—15, Gabrielle Turner 3-0—6, Payton Vogel 1-2—4, Casey Santoro 8-4—23, Riley Mohr 2-0—4. TOTALS 21-6—52.
Shayla Sellers 4-2—11, Haley Ross 3-0—6, Mika Dalton 2-0—5, Julia Mazanec 1-0—2, Dylynn Lasky 4-0—8, Shyanne Sellers 9-4—24. TOTALS 23-6—56.
Bellevue 11 13 11 17 — 52
Aurora 14 14 10 18 — 56
3-point FGs: (B) Ca. Santoro 3, Co. Santoro; (A) Shy. Sellers 2, Sha. Sellers, Dalton