HENRIETTA TWP. — If the Bay Rockets hadn’t fallen into a 14-0 hole and if they could’ve made some shots, they might still be playing basketball this week.
But second-seeded Firelands (20-2) made 70 percent of its first-quarter shots and rolled to an early 14-point lead in less than four minutes Saturday night.
Thanks to Bay’s pressure defense, the Falcons had some uneasy moments late, but went on to a 40-30 victory in a Division II sectional tournament opener. Bay, the eighth seed, finished the season 7-16.
It was a big night for Keely Hall, the Falcons’ 6-foot sophomore post. She put up a
double-double — 11 points and 11 rebounds — and with seven blocked shots, flirted with a triple-double.
“This felt great, it was amazing,” said Hall, who saw Firelands eliminated in its first sectional game last year. “That felt terrible, so this year it feels great. We were really pumped up to come out and play strong. We said, ‘Let’s go out and see if we can pound them at the beginning.’ Which we did and our defense was really strong.”
With Firelands running its offense to near perfection, Hall scored six points in the 14-0 opening deluge. Junior Brandi Holowecky and senior Casey Morrissette each drilled a 3-pointer and junior Heather Smyth scored from close range.
But from that point on, the Rockets outscored Firelands 30-26. Why? The Falcons shot just 6-for-31 the rest of the way and, for the game, missed 10 of their 18 foul shots. They also made 20 turnovers and were outrebounded 40-38.
Even so, the closest Bay got was eight points in the fourth quarter.
“This is probably the best game we’ve played all season,” Bay coach Brian Hill said. “We battled and I’m proud of the way my girls came back. We were down 14-0 and I think everybody thought they were going to put us away. But we knew better and we actually made a good run there. Unfortunately, our shots didn’t fall, and that’s what happens in basketball sometimes. There’s a lid on the basket.”
Hall’s 11 points were high for the game. Firelands exhibited its typically balanced scoring, with Holowecky scoring nine points and Morrissette eight. The Rockets’ Maddie Holmes finished with a team-high 10 points.
“We got a little sloppy toward the end, but the girls did a good job of keeping their focus,” Firelands coach Dave Kudela said. “We shot the ball pretty well and I liked our defense. Keely was amazing on defense. She, and everybody else, did a great job of defense, and Keely made a difference with her shot blocking. Because of that, (Bay) had to stop trying to go inside and settle for some shots from the outside.”
The Falcons, scheduled to play a regular-season finale at Wellington on Monday, host Keystone in a sectional final at 7 p.m. Thursday. Firelands defeated Keystone twice in close games during the Patriot Athletic Conference season.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Firelands 40, Bay 30
BAY (30): Aubrey Rohlke 0-1-1, Rachel Jerome 3-0-8, Dakota Meisenburg 0-0-0, Lauren Heldt 0-1-1, Laura Wilson 1-0-2, Maddie Holmes 4-1-10, Liz Burns 0-0-0, Nora Ziebarth 4-0-8, Emma Grubaugh 0-0-0. Totals 12-3-30.
FIRELANDS (40): Casey Morrissette 3-0-8, Victoria Grasso 0-0-0, Alyssa Melendez 0-2-2, Rebecca Myers 1-0-2, Brandi Holowecky 2-3-9, Haleigh Bari 1-0-2, Heather Smith 3-0-6, Keely Hall 4-3-11, Taylor Young 0-0-0. Totals 14-8-40.
Bay 5 9 9 7 — 30
Firelands 18 5 10 7 — 40
Three-point goals: Bay 3-8 (Jerome 2, Holmes); Firelands 4-8 (Holowecky 3, Morrissette). Field goals: Bay 12-63 (19 percent); Firelands 14-42 (33.3 percent). Free throws: Bay 3-8; Firelands 8-18. Rebounds: Bay 40; Firelands 38. Turnovers: Bay 15; Firelands 20.