|Elmwood's Brittany Gross fights for the ball. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
TOLEDO — The Elmwood girls basketball team let an 11-point lead slip away Saturday and, in turn, dropped a Division III district final game to Liberty-Benton 49-41 at Toledo Central Catholic High School. PHOTO GALLERY
The Royals concluded their season at 21-4, while Liberty-Benton (20-5) advanced to the regional semifinal at Ohio Northern University.
“We really wanted to be the first team to get to regionals for girls (basketball),” said Elmwood coach Doug Reynolds. “But not this year.”
The girls basketball program also made appearances in the district finals in 1993 and 2005.
Elmwood led 22-11 with six minutes left in the second quarter, but failed to score the remainder of the half. That allowed the Eagles to cut the lead to one at halftime.
Liberty-Benton took a 26-24 lead with 6:11 left in third quarter. The lead grew to as many as five points before Elmwood’s Brittany Gross hit a 3-pointer with 3:20 left in the third. But back-to-back Eagle buckets extended the lead to 35-29 to conclude the quarter.
In the fourth, the Royals brought it within two on a Tiffany Hillard layup with 2:14 left in the game. But a Rachel Myers 3-pointer delivered a crushing blow to Elmwood’s momentum to make it 43-38.
Three Elmwood players recorded double-digit scoring — Gross, (14 points, 10 rebounds); Brittany George (11 points, three assists) and Kristen Curtis (10 points).
Myers, who has made a verbal commitment to Bowling Green State University, had 14 points for Liberty-Benton. Teammate Katie Simon had 17.
“We got started the way we needed to start. We were rolling. The adrenaline was there,” Reynolds said.
“But we knew there were going to be runs by them.”
Through the first quarter and half of the second quarter, Elmwood was the aggressor. The Royals shot well and pulled in key rebounds.
But after Liberty-Benton switched from man-to-man defense to zone, Elmwood struggled to click on offense.
“We struggled (in the zone) and getting our looks,” Reynolds said. “It kind of baffles me because we have seen a lot of zones.”
Liberty-Benton coach Nate Irwin said throwing various defenses at the Royals was part of the game plan.
“We knew we couldn’t defend them man-to-man for 32 minutes,” Irwin said. “(The zone) seemed to be a little more effective for us.”
Liberty-Benton went on its first run midway through the second quarter. Myers kicked off the 9-0 run with a 3-pointer.
After scoring 16 points in the opening quarter, Elmwood was held to just six second quarter points. The Royals were also held to single-digit scoring in the third quarter when Liberty-Benton took over the lead for good.
“We went 21-4 and I don’t think anyone thought we would have that kind of record, but we knew we had girls who were going to work hard,” Reynolds said.
LIBERTY-BENTON 49, ELMWOOD 41
Tiffany Hillard, 1-0—2; Curtis, 1-2-2—10; Swavel, 0-0—0; Gross, 1-3-3—14; Emmitt, 0-2—2; Tori Hillard, 0-2—2; Emily Smith, 0-0—0; George, 3-1-2—11; Rosendale, 0-0—0; Ervin, 0-0—0; Veryser, 0-0—0; Harvey, 0-0—0. TOTALS: 6-6-11—41.
Trevino, 0-0—0; Kotey, 2-1—5; Myers, 2-2-4—14; Devincentis, 1-1-4—9; Simon, 6-1-2—17; Lishawa, 1-0—2; Reynolds, 0-2—2. TOTALS: 12-4-13—49.
ELMWOOD 16 6 7 12 —41
L-B 9 12 14 14 —49