BARBERTON — Either St. Thomas Aquinas played great defense or Black River struggled on offense.
Or maybe it was both.
The Knights beat the Pirates 32-22 Monday night in the Barberton Division III sectional, holding Black River to no points in the second quarter and four in the first half.
The Pirates (5-18) got a fast-break basket by Megan Scott to take a 4-3 lead with 3:16 remaining in the opening period, but didn’t score again in the first half.
“We couldn’t make a shot,” Black River coach Ken Deidrick said. “We fell behind and the girls got impatient, forcing up bad shots as if they were trying for a seven-point basket instead of relaxing and just working for an easy 2-pointer.”
The Pirates were 2-for-19 from the field in the first half, when they also committed 15 turnovers while trying to solve the full-court trapping of St. Thomas Aquinas (6-17).
“We haven’t run the press that much, but we scouted Black River and felt if we could keep the ball out of (Savanna Slone’s) hands, we may be able to force a few turnovers,” Knights coach Rob Rhodes said.
Before the Pirates recovered from their early troubles, they were down 15-4 early in the second half. A 10-3 run on two baskets by Morgan Leach (six points, 11 rebounds) and baskets from Scott, Angie Kazek and Slone trimmed the deficit to 18-14.
“I thought we would get back in the game after that run,” Diedrick said. “We were playing more relaxed and making our shots.”
Black River was down 24-19 with 6:23 to go in the game and had an easy shot under the basket, but the attempt went astray and the Knights’ Sydney Film (nine points, five rebounds, three assists) took over.
Film hit the only 3-pointer of the game, then followed with a basket from close range and finished with a great assist to Clarissa Jovinga to push the margin to 31-19, sending the Knights into a sectional championship Wednesday against second-seeded Waterloo.
“We haven’t been in a position this year to work on protecting a lead at the end of the game, so this was different for us,” Rhodes said. “Our sophomore (Film) took it upon herself to finish off the game.”
Black River held a 28-20 edge on the boards, but its 10 offensive rebounds didn’t lead to a single point.
“We did well on the boards, but we didn’t take advantage of our chances,” Deidrick said. “This season is now over, but you can bet one of our top priorities next year will be scoring in the post and taking advantage of rebound opportunities. Our inability to do that tonight added to our downfall.”
St. Thomas Aquinas 32, Black River 22
BLACK RIVER (22): Erin Patterson 0-0-0, Megan Scott 2-0-4, Morgan Leach 2-2-6, Angie Kazek 2-0-4, Savanna Slone 1-3-5, Sierra Boudress 0-0-0, Brienna Barkhimer 1-1-3, Alexis Homoki 0-0-0. Totals 8-6-22.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (32): Rachel Heistband 0-4-4, Sydney Film 3-2-9, Nicole Newman 4-3-11, Clarissa Jovingo 3-0-6, Marie Lombardi 0-0-0, Paige Dempsey 1-0-2, Rosa Forchione 0-0-0, Olivia Bond 0-0-0. Totals 11-9-32.
Black River 4 0 11 7 — 22
St. Thomas Aquinas 3 10 9 10 — 32
Three-point goals: Film; Rebounds: Black River 28 (Leach 11), St. Thomas Aquinas 20 (Newman, Film 5). Assists: Black River 7 (Leach 3), St. Thomas Aquinas 8 (Film 3). Turnovers: Black River 21 (Patterson 8), St. Thomas Aquinas 19 (Film 6). Fouls: Black River 15, St. Thomas Aquinas 9. Fouled out: Barkhimer.
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