The Hope Lady Lions’ hope for an undefeated season ended Friday when the Centre Lady Cougars defeated them, 52-46, in the semi-finals of the CHS Cougar Classic.
Going into the tournament, Hope had a record of 9-0 and was the top seed. Centre had a record of 3-6, and was seeded fourth.
Coach Alan Stahlecker said the girls’ mental attitude was the most important factor in the victory.
“Despite our 26-point loss to Hope just a week before, our girls were confident they could be competitive with Hope,” he said. “Our defensive plan was to try to limit Hope’s three main scorers to minimal points. We were successful in limiting one of them to only 1 point and one to 9 points.
He said the girls’ defensive play kept them in the game, and they out-rebounded Hope significantly.
“The will to compete was critical in the fourth quarter when we fell behind by 9 points fairly early in the quarter,” he said. “We didn’t make a big run but just kept chipping away at the lead, finally taking the lead in the last couple of minutes and shooting free throws very well down the stretch.”
Both teams won Jan. 17 in the first round. Centre defeated Wakefield, 39-33, to advance.
Cacey Simons scored Centre’s first 8 points Friday. After 2 free throws by Shelby Makovec, Centre led, 10-7.
Toward the end of the second quarter, the Lady Lions turned up the heat and went ahead 23-18 by halftime.
Hope’s lead increased to 9 points, 39-30, in the third quarter before Centre began an impressive comeback. Makovec and Makenzie Deines made field goals to cut the deficit to 7 points by the end of the quarter.
With 2 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Centre took the lead, 44-43, on a free throw by Makovec. She, Simons, and Beka Basore also made field goals to close the gap, and Basore made 2 free throws.
In an attempt to regain the lead, Hope fouled repeatedly, sending Makovec to the line three times for 6 points. Simons also made a free throw.
Hope scored just 5 points in the final quarter, including a 3-pointer with seconds remaining. Centre scored 18 points for a 6-point victory.
Shelby Makovec and Simons scored 16 points each. Other scorers were Basore, 7; Deines, 6; and Amy Makovec, Brenna Shields, and Theo Kassebaum, 2 each.
The game against Wakefield Jan. 17 in the opening round of the tournament was a seesaw until late into the fourth quarter. A field goal by Kassebaum gave Centre a 30-29 lead. Field goals by Shelby Makovec and Basore and free throws by Simons and Makovec produced a final score of 39-33.
Makovec led scoring with 12 points, followed by Simons, 9; Basore, 8; Genesis Rudolph and Kassebaum, 4 each; and Amy Makovec, 2.
Accurate 3-point shooting by Elyria won the game for the Lady Eagles on Saturday in the championship game. They completed 10 shots from beyond the arc. However, it took overtime to defeat the Lady Cougars.
An 11-2 first quarter for Centre, including a 3-pointer by Simons and 2 field goals by Basore, seemed to point to a sure victory.
However, the tide turned in the second quarter, when three Elyria players scored four 3-pointers. Shelby Makovec and Amy Makovec also made 3-pointers, but by halftime, Elyria led, 24-21.
Centre tied the game, 24-24, early in the third quarter and trailed by 1 point, 34-35, at the end of the quarter.
Centre outscored Elyria, 11-10, in the final quarter to tie the game at 44.
The overtime proved to be the Lady Cougars’ undoing, as they were outscored, 12-4. Deines made a field goal and Basore made 2 free throws. Elyria won the game, 56-48.
Shelby Makovec scored 23 points. Other scorers were Simons, 9; Basore, 6; Amy Makovec, 5; Deines, 4; and Kassebaum, 1.
Shelby Makovec received all-tournament honors.