ELYRIA — Leading by 14 points early in the third quarter, the second-seeded Firelands Falcons knew they hadn’t won anything yet, but it’s doubtful they could have foreseen just how badly Saturday night’s Division II sectional final at Elyria High School was about to turn on them.
Padua, the sixth seed, started hitting 3-pointers, the Falcons continued to turn the ball over and the Bruins not only caught Firelands but passed them on the way to a 51-42 win, advancing to Thursday’s district semifinal against Holy Name in the process
“We felt pretty good at halftime,” said Firelands coach Dave Kudela after his team finished its season 17-6. “We were fortunate (Padua) didn’t make many of those threes the first half. We knew they would make a run.”
Padua (13-11), after hitting just two 3-pointers the first half, made seven in the second. Savannah Heckelmoser fired in five of them to pave the way for the upset.
Heckelmoser finished with 17 points and Lea Walsh 14. The two combined to hit seven 3-point shots.
“We’re a young team, and the first half we looked like a young team,” Padua coach Scott Klingbell said. “We’re a really strong outside shooting team and I think a couple misses early and things started to snowball.
“We knew if we made it a game, the pressure would get shifted back to Firelands. When you come out and get a big lead and it goes away, teams can tighten up. We know we’re going to hit some shots. We’ve got some shooters out there. We know we can knock them down.”
Firelands built its big lead with aggressive play. When the Falcons were able to beat Padua’s full-court defense, they got some layups and free throws out of it. Junior Cassandra Morrissette finished with 15 points, while senior Rachel Holowecky added eight and freshman Keely Hall seven.
Eventually, however, Padua’s pressure and half-court traps paid dividends. The Bruins turned over the Falcons 14 times in the first half and 15 in the second. When the shots started falling the second half, it caused Firelands to rush things.
Padua, after scoring just nine points the first half, scored 19 in the third quarter and 23 in the fourth. Firelands mustered just 21 points after halftime. The Falcons’ last lead was 31-28 entering the final eight minutes.
“Unfortunately, the second half, our offense just disappeared,” Kudela said. “We needed a few more buckets.
“We were too impatient. We were pressing. We panicked and we started throwing the ball around the gym too much. Ultimately, the turnovers cost us.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Padua 51, Firelands 42
PADUA (51): Jackie Hartman 1-2-4, Kristi Vopat 0-1-1, Savannah Heckelmoser 6-0-17, Lea Walsh 6-0-14, Elena Weisenseel 1-3-6, Alyssa Freeman 3-0-7, Julianna Pavicic 1-0-2, Jordan Mason 0-0-0. Totals 18-6-51.
FIRELANDS (42): Cassandra Morrissette 4-6-15, Alyssa Melendez 0-0-0, Rachel Holowecky 3-2-8, Destiny Samples 1-4-6, Keely Hall 3-1-7, Brandi Holowecki 2-0-4, Haleigh Bari 1-0-2, Rebecca Myers 0-0-0. Totals 14-13-42.
Padua 4 5 19 23 — 51
Firelands 12 9 10 11 — 42
Three-point goals: Padua 9-32 (Heckelmoser 5, Walsh 2, Weisenseel, Freeman), Firelands 1-7 (Morrissette); Field goals: Padua 18-59 (30.5 percent), Firelands 14-40 (35 percent); Free throws: Padua 6-13 (46 percent), Firelands 13-22 (59 percent); Rebounds: Padua 36 (Heckelmoser, Walsh 7), Firelands 45 (Hall 9); Turnovers: Padua 14, Firelands 29; Total fouls: Padua 18, Firelands 10; Technical foul: Heckelmoser.