Saturday proved to be a good day for the Cardington girls’ basketball program.
The combination of their 57-26 win at Northmor along with Mount Gilead’s loss to Highland gave the Lady Pirates at least a share of their fifth straight league title. They currently are 11-0 in the conference and hold a three-game lead over the Indians with that many games remaining in the KMAC schedule.
During the win over the Golden Knights, senior Casey Bertke also etched her name into the Cardington record books for the third time this season. After previously breaking the program records in both career blocked shots and rebounds, a free throw with three minutes left in the contest gave her the record for career points scored. She finished with 19 in the game and currently has 1496 for her career.
“It feels great,” said Bertke. “When I get one of these, it feels like the team did. It’s basically having a good team behind me because none of this happens without them.”
Pirate coach Jamie Edwards said the most impressive part of Bertke’s records is how she’s been able to put up those numbers despite having a number of talented All-Ohio-caliber teammates during her career.
“What I think makes it special is that she’s gone through Sage Brannon, Kyndall Spires and Kynlee Edwards, who were all All-Ohioans, and was able to produce with all that talent,” he said. “A kid like that, in a different program, is a 2000-point scorer.”
An offensive explosion in the final five minutes of the first quarter staked Cardington to a big lead and removed a lot of the suspense from the contest. The Golden Knights led 2-0 on a pair of free throws by Reagan Swihart after three minutes had expired, but were outscored 21-2 over the remainder of the quarter.
Four points by Bertke and three-pointers by Karsyn Edwards and Beth Hardwick put the Pirates up 10-2. After Lexi Wenger trimmed two points off Northmor’s deficit, Cardington then finished the period on an 11-0 run, with Hardwick scoring five of those points.
Edwards was pleased with Hardwick’s recent play. She scored 20 against Danville on Tuesday and added 12 Saturday.
“That’s been very good,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for when Beth gets that confidence. She had a great summer and with the summer she had, we thought she could be that third kid we can lean on. She does a good job of not forcing it. There’s a bright future for that kid.”
Trailing by 17 points going into the second quarter, Northmor coach Freddy Beachy simply felt his team couldn’t handle Cardington’s defense.
“When you turn it over 11 times in the first quarter, that’s gonna happen,” he said. “That’s their defense. Their 1-3-1. If you don’t have shooters, you’re not going to beat it. They’re tall and just a good team.”
The Pirates led by a much as a 30-5 margin in the second period before Northmor could end the half on a 6-0 run sparked by a pair of Wenger baskets. However, they would not be able to take momentum into the second half. Leading 34-17 three minutes into the third period, Cardington would score eight in a row, with four different players tallying two apiece.
They would lead 42-20 at the end of the quarter and added to that advantage throughout the fourth in remaining perfect in league play.
With a pretty young team, Beachy said that his hope is that the performance against the Pirates doesn’t affect his players mentally going forward.
“We’re playing a lot of young kids — they’ll get it,” he said. “I just don’t want them getting down on themselves. They’re a good teams and have won the league the last four or five years.”
Wenger finished with 18 points, hitting three three-pointers in the process, to account for the bulk of Northmor’s offense. Cardington got 19 from Bertke, 12 from Hardwick and eight from Hannah Wickline.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS