A big third quarter allowed the Cardington girls’ basketball to pull away from Columbus Academy and claim a 59-45 win in their Saturday night sectional contest.
After the host Pirates used a three-pointer by Kambry Edwards and baskets from both Dana Bertke and Beth Hardwick to take an early 7-3 lead, they gave up eight of the game’s next nine points as their opponents surged in front by an 11-8 count.
Cardington would finish the first quarter on a 6-0 run, though. Hardwick brought the team within one with a basket and Mikayla Linkous scored twice from the field to put the Pirates in front 14-11.
Linkous would then carry the Cardington offense for the opening minutes of the second quarter, scoring eight straight Pirate points to allow them to maintain a 22-18 lead.
“She was shooting well and, defensively, her and Kambry had to guard #3 (Kayla McClendon) and #4 (Sophie Spolter),” said head coach Jamie Edwards. “Those kids are studs.”
Spolter would keep Academy within a 28-22 margin going into the half. While Karsyn Edwards scored four points for the Pirates and Hardwick added two, she was able to connect twice from the field to keep the Vikings close.
“Foul trouble early hurt us,” said Edwards. “We had seven fouls before they had any and they were good calls.”
However, Cardington would seemingly take control of the game in the third. Hardwick opened the period with a three-pointer. After an Academy basket, the Pirates got a free throw and a basket from Bertke and a two-pointer by Linkous. Spolter hit from the field to bring the visitors within a 36-26 score with 4:39 left in the period.
The Vikings wouldn’t light up the scoreboard again during that duration, though. Cardington responded by scoring nine straight to end the third, with Linkous scoring four and Hardwick adding three.
A free throw by Bertke to open the fourth quarter put the Pirates up 46-26, but the game wasn’t over yet. Claire Cahall scored from the field for Academy, Spolter added two three-pointers and Diana Ulbrich added a long-range shot to turn a 20-point lead into a nine-point advantage with just under five minute left.
However, Cardington was able to right the ship, getting back-to-back threes from Hardwick and Kambry Edwards to extend their lead to 15 at 52-37. While Ulbrich hit two more threes for her team, Academy would not be able to get back within a single-digit margin, allowing the Pirates to move on to the district semifinals with a perfect 21-0 record.
“They always find a way to make it close,” said Edwards of his team’s fourth quarter. “But this crew finds a way to grind out games. We’ve been in a situation 10-13 times where we have to grind those last three minutes.”
Linkous led all scorers with 22 points. Hardwick tallied 17 and Kambry Edwards scored eight.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS