Strong defense gave Cardington a lead in their Saturday night road basketball game against rival Mount Gilead and the Pirates were able to get timely shots in claiming a 52-40 win.
A three-pointer by Beth Hardwick and a basket by Casey Bertke helped Cardington take an early 5-2 lead, but Candace Millisor responded with a three to tie the game. However, MG would go over three minutes without scoring. During that span, the Pirates got five points from Hannah Wickline and a bucket by Bertke to open up a 12-5 lead. Despite the Indians getting a three from Holly Gompf, they still trailed 14-8 after eight minutes.
“What hurt us more than anything was that we had turnovers, some unforced turnovers,” said Indian coach Bob Scott. “It was those little things that allowed them to pull away.”
Cardington coach Jamie Edwards was glad that his team’s defense made it tough for Mount Gilead to get into their offense, as he felt they played a lot better than in the first meeting between the teams — a 48-30 Pirate win.
“I think they played great,” he said. “(Holly) Gompf never really hit on us before, but tonight, she hit four of them (three-pointers). Candace Millisor did a nice job guarding Casey. She was keeping her away from the basket and making her shoot a little farther outside.”
Hardwick scored five points early in the second period for Cardington, but MG was able to get back within a three-point margin at 19-16 thanks to three-pointers by Gompf and Madison Fitzpatrick and a pair of free throws from Kaitlynn Pfeifer.
However, they would only score two points over the final four minutes of the period, allowing the Pirates to pull back away. Wickline added five more points and Dana Bertke scored once from the charity stripe, as Cardington held a 25-18 lead going into the locker room. Scott noted that with Casey Bertke and Wickline on the other team, it will be tough for his squad to play good defense.
“We’re vertically challenged and not as big as they are,” he said. “Give them credit. They did what they needed to do. We competed and that’s what we asked them to do.”
Offense was in short supply for much of the third quarter. A three-pointer by Gompf provided the only points of the first four minutes of the period. Casey Bertke hit a basket at the 3:36 mark to get Cardington back on the board, but MG responded with a Fitzpatrick basket.
However, Cardington quickly responded with a Hardwick three-pointer to turn a 27-23 game into a seven-point margin. Edwards noted that he tried to use his time outs whenever his team was able to get a big shot to widen its lead.
“When we made those big shots, I called a time out,” he said. “I just wanted them to think about it a bit and let it fester for a while. They came and popped us on the chin and we popped them back.”
With a 30-23 lead, Cardington then got an unorthodox four-point play. Dana Bertke drew a foul, but missed both free throws. However, the ball was collected by Casey Bertke, who scored and drew contact. She would miss her free throw, but Wickline was there to put the ball in for two more points.
Millisor responded with a three-pointer for MG, but another Wickline bucket gave Cardington a 36-26 lead going into the final period.
Four different players had four points for the Indians in the final period, but the team would not be able to get any closer than eight points down the stretch. Casey Bertke scored 11 of her game-high 21 points in that period to keep the Pirates in front.
Cardington also got 14 from Wickline and 13 by Hardwick as that duo combined to connect five times from three-point range. The win pushed Cardington to 19-1 with two games left against tough opposition in Buckeye Central and Olentangy Berlin.
“After those, we’ll have about a week-and-a-half off,” said the coach, looking forward to the DIvision III tournament. “We’ll take a couple days off to rest our legs.”
Mount Gilead, who got 13 points from Gompf and nine more by Fitzpatrick, also will be looking forward to the tournament. As the fourth seed in DIvision III, they’ll open with a tough opponent on Feb. 22 in sixth-seeded Pleasant.
“They play multiple defenses and they’re very good at running their offense and making you play on defense,” said Scott. “When the second through seventh seeds all go to one side of the bracket, it’ll be tough.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS