By ANDY WOLF
WILLARD — There’s a fine line between speeding your opponent up and speeding yourself up too much.
Fostoria High School’s girls basketball team finally found the right blend to start the second half and quickly trimmed a 17-point deficit down to eight.
But the spurt was short lived as the Redmen couldn’t overcome their mistakes in a 51-34 sectional semifinal loss to Bucyrus Tuesday night at Willard.
Bucyrus (12-10) advanced to meet Seneca East (17-5) in the sectional final at 6 p.m. Saturday at Willard. Fostoria finishes the season at 4-19.
“They came out a little bit timid, just afraid to make a mistake,” Fostoria coach Gabe Sierra said of his players. “That’s not how we practiced all week.
“(Tuesday) We got up and down the floor and knew what we were coming into. We didn’t have that killer instinct like we thought we would.”
Fostoria owned a distinctive edge in athleticism and quickness. Harnessing it fully took some time — the entire first half to be exact.
By the time they did, the hole was too deep.
Bucyrus, who was led by Shaina Orewiler’s game-high 15 points, took a commanding 28-11 lead into halftime after allowing just four points in the second quarter.
Fostoria, which totaled 26 turnovers, struggled to finish the looks it did get in the paint and shot just 4 of 22 in the first half, 13 of 52 overall.
But a different team showed up to start the second half.
Bucyrus committed turnovers on its first three possessions and Fostoria cashed in on the first two via an Evion Taylor 3-pointer and Naija Miller jumper.
After Ni’Georia Floyd missed two free throws for Bucyrus, Taylor drove down the lane again for a bucket and J’Breonn Jones sprinted down the floor after a loose ball and converted an uncontested layup.
“We knew we were going to press them; we knew we were going to get them tired,” Sierra said. “We knew we were going to force them into mistakes at times and we did.”
Bucyrus coach Taylor Whitaker took a time out to regroup her team, still leading 28-20 with 5:30 left in the frame.
In between its 13 third-quarter turnovers, Bucyrus also missed its first nine shots from the field.
“A combination of things,” Whitaker said. “We started to take rushed shots rather than our best shot. That’s what it comes down to. During the first half we took the best shots we could’ve and they fall.”
Fostoria similarly went cold.
Its next six shots fell off target and the turnovers began to mount, often throwing the ball away after a steal or forcing an entry pass into a crowded paint.
“They sat back and waited for us to make our mistakes,” Sierra said. “We come up with game plans and when they get cold feet, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to execute.”
Fostoria’s Ruby Dessasure did score on a feed from Larai Williams at the 1-minute mark to end a four-minute stretch where both teams combined for one point.
But Bucyrus freshman Caleigh Rister righted the ship with two free throws and a jumper to give her team a 33-22 lead at the third-quarter buzzer.
Fostoria never came within single digits in the fourth quarter.
Taylor scored a team-high 11 points while Tyriana Settles tallied four points, 13 rebounds and two steals. Dessausure added two points, eight rebounds and three steals.
The game was the last for Fostoria’s three seniors in Taylor, Jones and Williams — all multi-year letterwinners.
“I only had them two years but they’re great kids,” Sierra said. “You hate to see them go like that. They really put the time and effort in. They enjoy being out on the floor.
“I guarantee tomorrow they’ll want to be out there playing.”
Jones 2-2–6, Miller 2-0–5, Taylor 4-2–11, Williams 3-0–6, Dessausure 1-0–2, Settles 1-2–4. TOTALS: 13-52 6-15–34.
Floyd 4-0–8, Rister 2-2–6, Lewis 3-1–7, Burling 2-5–10, Orewiler 5-4–15, Simms 2-0–5. TOTALS: 18-53 12-23–51.
Fostoria 7 4 11 12 — 34
Bucyrus 18 10 5 18 — 51
3-Point GOALS: Fostoria 2-12 (Miller & Taylor); Bucyrus 3-13 (Burling, Orewiler & Simms).
rebounds: Fostoria 33 (Settles 13); Bucyrus 39 (Spears 10).
turnovers: Fostoria 26, Bucyrus 27.
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