By MICHAEL BURWELL
Leipsic’s girls basketball team narrowly missed out on two league titles this season.
But a second district title in school history will likely make up for it.
Leipsic’s length on the perimeter helped force 18 Carey turnovers, and the Vikings shot lights out from the free-throw line, especially in the fourth quarter, to knock off the Blue Devils 58-44 in a Division IV district final Saturday at Liberty-Benton High School.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” Leipsic coach Gary Kreinbrink said. “This was a team I don’t think at the beginning really projected out to have this kind of season. But they didn’t give up, and they just kept playing hard all year and I’m proud of them.”
Leipsic (22-3), which also won a district title in 2013, advanced to take on Wayne Trace (22-3) in a regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at the Elida Fieldhouse. Wayne Trace topped Stryker 54-43 Saturday in a district final at Archbold.
Leipsic’s senior duo of 1,000-point scorers, Heather Lammers and Kierra Meyer, combined to score 40 points. Lammers (5-foot-9) notched a game-high 22 points with six rebounds, while Meyer (5-8) added 18 points and nine boards.
They made a living at the line.
Meyer knocked down 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter, while Lammers hit 5 of 6. Overall, the Vikings connected on 84 percent (16 of 19) from the line in the final frame to maintain its lead and 79 percent (22 of 28) for the game.
As a team during the regular season, Leipsic shot 60 percent from the line.
“I’ve definitely struggled with free throws this season, that’s for sure,” Lammers said with a laugh. “We’ve been in a couple situations this season where it has come down to free throws at the end and teams fouling us. That’s something we work on every day in practice, so we’re ready for those moments. We just have to put them in.”
Sydney Kin, a 6-2 senior for Carey (22-3) who will play basketball for the University of Findlay, totaled 13 points, 16 rebounds and a block.
Her 3-pointer with 7:13 left in the third quarter after grabbing an offensive rebound were her last points of the game.
“It’s tough,” Carey coach Phil Vaughn said. “We tried to move her out a little bit because she can shoot the basketball. But, it just didn’t work out getting the basketball where we wanted it when we wanted it.”
Carey trailed 15-12 after the first quarter, 25-20 at halftime and 28-20 early in the third after Lammers drained a 3-pointer.
But the Blue Devils cut their deficit to 30-28 with 5:18 left in the third after Amber Nash found Sydney Ferguson for an easy score in the paint.
Leipsic responded with a 10-1 run, capped by a Lammers 3-pointer, over the next seven minutes to take a 40-29 lead. It was the Vikings’ largest lead of the game at that point.
The Vikings’ defense forced seven turnovers in the third quarter and five in the fourth. Meyer added a steal in the backcourt for an easy layup with four minutes left.
Carlee Siefker and Peyton Henry, a pair of 5-9 juniors for the Vikings, had several deflections and steals as well.
“We knew that they had Sydney Kin inside and we don’t necessarily have the height, but we do have the length and the arms in the guards,” Lammers said. “So we were just focused on stopping her, double teaming her when she was in the post and then they also had decent shooters on the top, so we had to watch out for them, too.”
Carey pulled to within 42-34 after Destiny DeFeo found Bryanna Curlis for a 3-pointer and 44-36 with 2:32 left after DeFeo hit two free throws, but that was as close as the Blue Devils would get.
Kin had two heavily-contested and deep 2-point shot attempts in the final minute and a half, but those were her only shot attempts of the quarter.
“We just tried to front, tried to get backside help,” Kreinbrink said. “We only had two days to get ready for it, but we’ve kind of played some of those (players), we played (Hopewell-Loudon 6-4 freshman MaKayla) Elmore during the season and she’s kind of similar because she can play on the perimeter, too. So it’s not like we had no idea what we were going to do. They did a great job.”
Leipsic shot just 36 percent (16 of 45) from the floor, but started the game 6 of 8 from the floor in taking a 13-9 lead. Ten of those points came in the paint.
Henry added eight points while Siefker, who earlier in the day competed in the state indoor track meet, added four points and four rebounds.
Ferguson scored 10 points for Carey, while DeFeo and Curlis added nine and eight, respectively. The Blue Devils made 13 of 16 free throws and shot 12 of 38 from the floor.
Carey’s eight seniors combined to go 82-14 during their high school career.
“One of those classes that come in and Destiny and Sydney (Kin) started playing varsity as freshmen, and the others were so competitive all the way through,” Vaughn said. “Even though they weren’t varsity players early, they’ve meant a lot to the program.
“It’s going to be hard to see them go. It was an important class for our program.”
Kin 3-6–13, Ferguson 3-2–10, DeFeo 2-3–9, Curlis 3-0–8, Worst 1-0–2, Carter 0-2–2, Nash 0-0–0, Lonsway 0-0–0, Wenzinger 0-0–0, Roof 0-0–0, Roark 0-0–0, Arend 0-0–0. TOTALS: 12-38 13-16 — 44.
Lammers 6-7–22, Meyer 5-8–18, Henry 1-6–8, Rigel 2-0–4, Siefker 1-1–4, Sickmiller 1-0–2, K. Scheckelhoff 0-0–0, Niese 0-0–0, Schroeder 0-0–0, Loredo 0-0–0, Brooks 0-0–0, Giron 0-0–0. TOTALS: 16-45 22-28 — 58.
Carey 12 8 9 15 — 44
Leipsic 15 10 10 23 — 58
3-Point GOALS: Carey 7-18 (Ferguson, Curlis & DeFeo 2, Kin 1); Leipsic 4-17 (Lammers 3, Siefker 1).
rebounds: Carey 32 (Kin 16); Leipsic 29 (Meyer 9).
turnovers: Carey 18, Leipsic 9.
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