The axiom “it’s not how you start but how you finish” applied to the Lady Cougars Saturday in the Cougar Classic championship game.
After a slow start, the Lady Cougars defeated Elyria 40-35 to claim the championship.
Centre trailed by 11 points at the end of the first quarter. Shelby Pankratz and Summer Espinoza each made a free throw for Centre’s 2 points.
The Lady Cougars picked up their scoring in the second quarter to close the gap to 7 points by halftime. Shelby Makovec and Pankratz combined for three 3-pointers, and Lotti Benning added 3 points.
Ally Basore scored 5 points in the third quarter, and Shelby Makovec and Summers each added 2 points. Centre trailed by 2 points.
A basket by Benning at the beginning of the fourth quarter tied the game at 26-26. A 3-pointer by Makovec put the Lady Cougars ahead. The game remained close, but Centre maintained the lead. Makovec’s 5 free throws in the closing minutes of the game made the difference in the victory.
“After pulling into the lead, some good free-throw shooting, timely rebounding, and defensive stops allowed us to pull out a tough win,” coach Alan Stahlecker said.
Makovec led scoring with 18 points. Other scorers were Basore, 7; and Pankratz, Benning, and Espinoza, 5 points each.
The Lady Cougars faced a formidable opponent Friday against Marion, and won the game, 40-36.
The game was tied at the end of the first quarter, and Centre trailed by 4 points at halftime.
Centre took a 27-25 lead in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Makovec, followed by a 3-pointer and two free throws by Pankratz. Centre led by 6 points at the end of the quarter.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was marred by turnovers. Marion eventually scored 5 free throws and a basket to take a 33-32 lead with three and half minutes remaining.
Free throws by Makovec and a basket by Benning gave Centre a 38-33 lead, but a 3-pointer by a Marion player closed to gap to 2 with less than a minute remaining. Makovec was fouled and made two free throws to clinch a 4-point win.
“I was very pleased with the way the girls responded in challenging situations on Friday and Saturday against two good and determined teams in Marion and Elyria Christian,” Stahlecker said.
He noted the girls have been in the championship game all five years of the Cougar Classic tournament. They took the championship last year.
Shelby Makovec and Shelby Pankratz were named to the all-tournament team. Makovec has been named to the team all four years of her high school career.