The Cardington girls’ basketball team jumped out to a fast start against visiting Bishop Ready Saturday afternoon and never looked back in claiming a 57-29 win to earn a sectional championship and move on in the Division III playoffs.
The Lady Pirates scored 23 points in the opening period and never allowed their opponents more than nine in any quarter of the contest. Head coach Jamie Edwards noted that the eighth-seeded Silver Knights provided tough opposition, but some good three-point shooting helped set his offense up for a successful day.
“We watched them against North Union (in the first round) and they beat them worse than we did,” he said. “We don’t shoot a lot of threes as a group, but the ones we shot today were consistent.”
Paige Clinger opened the game with the first of four Cardington three-pointers. After Ready’s Derricka Bramwell connected from the field to cut the Pirate lead to one, Casey Bertke sparked a 10-2 run with six points.
Bri Hejduk connected from three-point range for Ready, but Bertke picked up five straight points to boost her team’s lead to an 18-7 score. Hejduk hit from the field again, but a Kynlee Edwards’ three-pointer and two more from Bertke allowed Cardington to lead by 14 after eight minutes.
Coach Edwards simply felt that having a little rest helped his team get out to a fast start, as they’d played four games the previous week. “One of the reasons we took a bye was that we’d be playing five games in seven days and we had tired legs,” he said. “So instead of playing five, we got some days off and got fresh.”
A dominating defensive performance in the second quarter essentially put the game out of reach for the Silver Knights. Four points by both Bertke and Kynlee Edwards boosted the Pirate lead to a 31-9 score and they’d go into the half still up by 22 points at 36-14.
Coach Edwards stated that Bertke, who finished with a game-high 27 points, played a strong game offensively for his squad.
“She was dropping assists on the baseline and when we needed her to take over, she did,” he said. “That’s the mark of a good player.”
Cardington continued to widen their advantage in the second half. Four points each from Bertke and Hannah Wickline helped the team move in front 48-23 in the third quarter; while Bertke added four points to her point total in the fourth as they put the finishing touches on the game.
Other than Bertke’s 27 points, the Pirates also got nine-point days from Clinger and Kynlee Edwards.
Next up for Cardington will be Worthington Christian on Tuesday. After his third-seeded team opened with the eighth seed in the district and now are playing the second seed, Coach Edwards said that one side effect of being in the same district as Africentric is that the majority of the top teams in the area are all in the same half of the bracket.
“It’s a district final game in the district semis,” he said of the contest with Worthington Christian. “That’s what’s going to happen when you have the third-ranked team in the country in the other half of the bracket.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS