Mount Gilead senior Aubrey Thomas led the Lady Indians in scoring Tuesday night in the Division IV district semifinals.

Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

A slow start for the Mount Gilead girls’ basketball team combined with hot outside shooting by Newark Catholic conspired to end the Indians’ season Tuesday night.

Competing at Big Walnut in the Division IV district semifinals, the Lady Indians struck first in the game on a basket by Kendall Neal, but struggled to put points on the board over the duration of the opening period. Meanwhile, their opponents hit four three-pointers in the first quarter and 10 for the game as they pulled away for a 51-25 win.

After taking that 2-0 lead, Mount Gilead (13-12) was outscored 22-2 over the final seven minutes of the first. Head coach Nick Vukovich felt his team didn’t have the same energy they did in Saturday’s sectional final win over Wellington — a problem made worse by the Green Wave’s hot shooting.

“We didn’t play with energy like we did the last game,” he said. “We didn’t start the game with energy. We came out and as soon as they hit a couple shots, we went right to panic mode. We didn’t stay the course. That was the result of it. We told them yesterday in practice, even on Sunday, this is a first-quarter team. They come out and they try to bury you right away and that’s exactly what they did. We knew what was coming. We just didn’t react very well.”

Newark Catholic’s pressure defense forced several Indian turnovers and the team was able to convert those into points. A three-pointer by Sophie Peloquin and buckets from both Natalie Harrington and Fini Kaiser gave them a 7-2 lead.

Aubrey Thomas would draw a foul and convert both her free throws to bring the Indians back within three, but the Green Wave finished the quarter with a 15-0 run sparked by three Kylie Gibson three-pointers.

Vukovich noted that his team’s mistakes proved costly against an undefeated, state-ranked Green Wave team.

“We talked about it all season long,” he said. “When you start the year out, you can make certain mistakes. But as the year progresses and you go farther in tournaments, those mistakes can’t happen any more and that’s exactly what happened. We were making the same mistakes that we’ve been making before. We learn from it, we move on and we try to build the program next year again.”

Over the next two periods, Mount Gilead did a much better job of holding down their opponents’ offense, but they struggled to cut into their deficit. In the second period, Thomas recorded six points, but that was all the team’s points over those eight minutes as they entered the half trailing 32-10.

Faith White opened the third with a three-pointer and Thomas added two free throws to make it a 17-point game. After the Green Wave got back-to-back baskets, Mount Gilead responded with a three from Neal and a Greer Simpson basket to go into the fourth trailing 36-20.

Unfortunately, they would not be able to continue attempting to come back in the fourth. Newark Catholic opened the period with back-to-back threes and, after a three from White, hit three more to pull away.

Thomas led the Indians with 10 points. With her and Simpson being the team’s only two seniors, Vukovich is hoping his team will be able to build upon this season’s accomplishments down the road.

“We’re young,” he said. “We knew we were young after last year. We start two sophomores, one junior and two seniors, so we have kids who gave us good minutes all year long. We just have to hopefully get i the gym in the off-season. They put the work in and we just kind of build on what we did this year.”

Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS