For three quarters, the second-seeded girls’ basketball team from Cardington was locked in a near-even game with Grandview in their tournament-opener Saturday night.
However, they were able to take control of the game in the fourth and wound up extending their season to this week’s district action by a 34-24 margin. Cardington took an 11-3 advantage over the final eight minutes to turn a two-point lead into their double-digit win.
“I’m almost glad it went down like that,” said Pirate coach Jamie Edwards. “We need games like this to get better. They had 5’10” and 11” kids packed in. Once we skipped it, we have short guards trying to shoot over big kids.”
Edwards noted that his team also had been off for over a week and had a different Saturday game-day routine than usual, where they held a shoot-around, had a team meal and scouted another basketball game before taking the court.
“Most of that’s on me,” he said. “They were out all day. We never have shoot-arounds on game day and that takes us out of our mode. They were not able to hang out at home before the game.”
For much of the game, the team also had troubles defending Grandview’s Hannah Yochem, who led all scorers with 16 points on the night. She hit a pair of three-pointers and two free throws in the opening period as her team played
Cardington to an 11-11 tie in the first quarter. The Pirates got four each from Hannah Wickline and Casey Bertke and led 8-4 five minutes into the game, but after Yochem got hot from the field, Cardington needed a late Dana Bertke three-pointer to tie things up heading into the second.
Edwards said that after Yochem’s hot start, he changed up the defense a bit in order to contain her a little more.
“Mikayla Linkous did a great job on #22 (Yochem) the majority of the game,” he said. “Kudos to her for changing the game there.”
Yochem did hit a pair of baskets — one from long range — early in the second quarter to give her team a 16-12 advantage, but neither she nor anyone else on her team could put up any offense over the final seven minutes of the half.
Unfortunately for Cardington, they would not be able to take full advantage of that, as they were only able to get a Dana Bertke three and a Casey Bertke basket to hold a 17-16 lead at the break.
However, their defense would prevent the Bobcats from getting any momentum. They only gave up five points in the third quarter, allowing them to lead 23-21 going into the final period and then only allowed a Yochem three over the final eight minutes.
Wickline opened the fourth with a basket to make it 25-21. She was fouled on the play and missed her attempt from the charity stripe, but Casey Bertke snagged the rebound and put it up for two more. A free throw by Casey Bertke and baskets from both Casey and Dana brought the lead up to a 32-21 margin.
Edwards noted that when his team was able to get a couple baskets to open up a lead, they were able to take Grandview out of their defense.
“In the fourth quarter, we were able to get a three, four point cushion,” he said. “We knew they couldn’t guard us man to man. Just having the lead up to four or fives and being able to stretch them out was key.”
Yochem’s three made it 32-24 with 2:32 left, but Grandview wouldn’t be able to manufacture any more offense as Cardington was able to advance past sectionals to districts for the fifth straight year.
Casey Bertke led the team with 15 points, while Wickline had 11 and Dana Bertke tallied eight.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS