While Cardington’s girls’ basketball team was not particularly accurate from beyond the arc in their home sectional contest with Grandview Heights on Thursday, two of the three three-pointers they did hit came at the perfect time for coach Jamie Edwards.
After the two teams had played a close-knit game for nearly two full quarters, the Pirates got three-pointers from Paige Clinger and Sage Brannon in the final 90 seconds of the half to help turn a 25-23 lead into a 33-25 advantage at the break. The Pirates would then hold the lead the entire second half in claiming a 60-50 win to advance to the district semifinals.
“Paige came up big and Sage carried us through the whole game,” said Edwards. “We only took her out in spurts. It was the same with Kynlee (Edwards), but not because of offense, but her defense on (Lauren) Collier.”
Collier proved to be the toughest Bobcat for the Pirates to stop, as she hit five three-pointers and scored 25 points. However, she only mustered three of that total during the third quarter, as the Pirates were able to expand their lead to a comfortable margin. Casey Bertke scored five points and Brannon added another three to help Cardington jump in front 42-25 with 3:07 left in the period.
A three by Collier and three more points by Kasey Murphy brought the Bobcats within 11 with eight minutes to go, though. Grandview would be strong behind the arc over that time, connecting on five three-pointers and getting as close as five points with a minute remaining.
However, the Bobcats started extending the game by fouling Cardington down the stretch and the Pirates were solid enough at the line (12-of-18 in the quarter) and able to get some key steals defensively to put the game away.
“They started trudging back with three after three,” said Edwards. “We’re normally good at running the clock out, but they have a good coach and experienced team.”
Until Cardington’s run late in the second quarter, neither team could get control of the game. Baskets by Brannon, Casey Bertke and Clinger staked Cardington to an early 6-2 lead, but their opponents scored 10 of the next 12 points to move in front 12-8. The Pirates would finish the opening stanza strongly, getting another Bertke basket and three free throws by Kyndall Spires to tie the game at 13.
The teams traded the lead back-and-forth throughout most of the second quarter, with neither team holding more than a two-point advantage until Clinger’s three-pointer made it 28-23. It looked like the game would go into the half at a five-point margin, but Brannon’s three was released just before the buzzer to make it an eight-point game at the half.
“I’d rather play a game like this than some of the scores I’ve seen,” said Edwards, citing some early-round blowouts in the tournament. “The Central District is as tough as it’s been in years. No matter where we went, we’d have a tough game.”
The Pirates will now play Tuesday in the district semifinals against either Worthington Christian or Bishop Ready. Edwards noted that while his team doesn’t have the varsity experience that many of the other Central District teams has, with a line-up loaded with underclassmen, most of his girls play basketball throughout the year.
“A lot of our girls play AAU against a lot of the best competition in the state and we have three who play with high-level exposure,” he said.
Brannon finished with 24 points to lead the Pirates, while both Bertke and Spires tallied 12.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS