By MICHAEL BURWELL
TIFFIN — From the opening tip, everything went Tiffin Calvert’s way in its Division IV sectional semifinal against Hopewell-Loudon.
Whether it was Nicole Bickley snatching offensive rebounds and putting it back up for a score, Taylor Ritzler getting layups off of fast-breaks, or Kate Brickner draining 3-pointers, the Senecas were in control. They withstood a Hopewell-Loudon third-quarter rally for a 67-51 win over the Chieftains on Wednesday at Tiffin Columbian High School.
Tiffin Calvert (16-5) will face Old Fort, which defeated Monroeville 50-45, in Saturday’s 8 p.m. at Tiffin Columbian.
The Senecas set the tone early, especially on the glass. Bickley scored 10 of her 16 points, with six of them coming off of offensive rebounds, and grabbed seven boards in the first quarter.
“We came out, we played with a lot of energy early,” Tiffin Calvert head coach Tim Ritzler said. “We didn’t shoot the ball quite as well as we would have liked, but we did a great job on the offensive boards, getting ourselves second and third opportunities until we could get the finish.”
The second quarter belonged to Ritzler, who scored six of her 13 points in the quarter, all on fast-break layups. Brickner’s back-to-back 3-pointers in a minute span early in the third quarter pushed the Senecas’ lead to 45-29.
“I thought our post players did a great job of limiting them to one shot,” Ritzler said. “We got the defensive rebound, had a good, quick outlet pass to our guards, and our guards did a great job attacking.
“I thought Taylor did a tremendous job pushing the ball in the fast-break and making good decisions. If she had the lane, she took it. If not, she made the extra pass to somebody else running to the lane and it really worked out for us.”
Tiffin Calvert pushed its’ lead to 49-29 with 2:58 left in the third quarter after Ritzler made another fast-break layup.
But the Chieftains weren’t ready to give up just yet.
Hopewell-Loudon closed the quarter on a 13-4 run after head coach Rod Daniel called a timeout. Senior guard Aleta Daniel, who led the Chieftains with 16 points, scored five straight to cut the deficit to 51-38, and 6-foot-1 senior Courtney Burns scored four straight points to make it 53-42.
Daniel’s pair of free throws cut the Senecas’ lead to 53-44 with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter.
It was the closest the Chieftains got to Tiffin Calvert since trailing 34-25 with 1:41 left in the first half, and it was the closest Rod Daniel’s team would get the rest of the game.
“We wanted them to know, you worked to get that deficit from 20 to nine in just minutes,” Rod Daniel said. “We’re an explosive team on the offensive end, and there was a ton of time left.
“We spent a lot of energy to get it back down there, then we let them go on a little run to pull back to 17 or whatever it was, and we couldn’t quite overcome that hump again.”
The Senecas scored six straight points to push the lead to 59-44, capped off by Margaret Bowers’ basket down low off of a pass from Lindsay Bickley.
“Hopewell’s a good team, and they weren’t going to quit,” Ritzler said. “When the season’s on the line like this, it’s win or go home in tournament time. Teams aren’t going to quit, and that’s what Hopewell did. They continued to fight.”
Tiffin Calvert outrebounded Hopewell-Loudon 36-24, with Nicole Bickley grabbing a game-high 11. The Senecas also forced 19 turnovers, while committing 10 of its’ own.
Brickner scored a game-high 19 points to lead Tiffin Calvert. Burns also scored in double figures for Hopewell-Loudon with 14, including 10 of 12 (83 percent) from the free-throw line.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game,” Rod Daniel said. “We just knew we had to keep them off the boards, and that just killed us early on.”
tiffin calvert (17-5)
Sullivan 1-0–2, Ritzler 5-3–13, Kontak 0-3–3, Brickner 5-6–19, Bowers 3-0–6, L. Bickley 3-2–8, N. Bickley 7-2–16, Perry 0-0–0, Beckley 0-0–0. TOTALS: 24-65 16-25–67.
Burns 2-10–14, Daniel 5-4–16, Leiter 1-2–4, Gregg 3-0–6, Arbogast 2-3–7, Brickner 1-2–4, Feindel 0-0–0, Park 0-0–0. TOTALS: 14-47 21-26–51.
Tiffin Calvert 24 14 15 14 — 67
Hopewell-Loudon 11 16 15 9 — 51
3-Point GOALS: Tiffin Calvert 3-11 (Brickner 3); Hopewell-Loudon 2-12 (Daniel 2).
rebounds: Tiffin Calvert 36 (N. Bickley 11); Hopewell-Loudon 24 (Arbogast 6).
turnovers: Tiffin Calvert 10, Hopewell-Loudon 19.
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