JACKSON CENTER — Lehman Catholic’s girls basketball schedule was filled with breaks in the first six weeks of the season. The squad is hoping for more consistency during its final 12 games of regular season in the next five weeks.
The Cavaliers and Jackson Center were both inconsistent in several areas in a nonconference game on Thursday. But Lehman was able to use a bunch of steals early in the fourth quarter to power a 6-0 run that helped secure a 43-35 win.
Jackson Center cut a 10-point lead by Lehman down to six points in the final two minutes of the third quarter. The Cavaliers (5-5) switched to a full-court press that caused several consecutive turnovers by Jackson Center and helped fuel the 6-0 run that pushed the lead to 42-28.
Lehman coach Craig Hall said speeding up Jackson Center was the main benefit of the full-court press.
“They tend to think if we’re not getting a steal every other time, our press isn’t working,” Hall said of Lehman’s players. “I explained to them after the game that we’re not going to get a steal every time. That’s not what we’re after. We just want to control the pace of the game a little bit. It’s a high-energy defense, and that’s our style.
“They have to learn it’s not going to be a fast-break opportunity every time. Once they start buying into that, we’ll be better off.”
Lehman’s 15 steals were the statistical highlight among other struggles. The team shot 28 percent (13 for 46) from the field, 53 percent (16 for 30) from the free-throw line and committed 13 turnovers.
Hall attributed some of that to Jackson Center’s defense and 6-foot-0 junior center Katie Clark, who scored 13 points, had at least 10 rebounds and proved to be a roadblock for Lehman in the post all night.
“We’re dealing with some players with the flu and stuff, but no excuses,” Hall said. “… (Jackson Center) is physical. It’s typical Shelby County (Athletic League) ball. We knew that going into it. It’s going to be physical, and we have to find a way to get our kids mad in physical games. They don’t get upset if they get hit. Not retaliate, but hold your ground.
“It was a physical game down low. Their post girl, we started playing behind her, and she manhandled us. When we started playing in front of her, we did a nice job.”
The Cavaliers had a 10-day break in early December for class retreats, played four games in eight days and then had another nine-day break around Christmas.
“We had basically one day of practice since our last game before this, being off (New Year’s Day),” Hall said. “… There’s been a lot of breaks, but hopefully now we’ll get some consistency and some good practices in. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to go.”
Lehman junior forward Anna Ciancolo scored a game-high 16 points and had six rebounds. Senior forward Lauren McFarland scored nine points and had seven rebounds while senior guard Hope Anthony scored eight points and had eight rebounds and three steals. Senior point guard Rylie McIver had eight steals, five rebounds and three assists and scored three points.
“We’re doing a decent job getting shots, but we’ve got to do a better job defensively,” Hall said. “… We’re going to get the points, and it can come from four or five different players. You can’t key on one of our girls, because we’re so quick. We’re going to get the points, we’ve just got to get the stops.”
The teams started off slow and played to a 5-5 tie in the first quarter. Lehman started the second quarter on a 10-0 run, which McIver capped off with a steal and score with 4:15 left. The Tigers responded with a 9-0 run that was capped by a putback by Clark.
The Cavaliers increased their lead to 23-16 by halftime thanks to a pair of free throws by McFarland and a basket by Cianciolo in the last eight seconds of the second quarter. Clark made two consecutive baskets and Ashley Mullenhour added another to pull Jackson Center within 27-24 with about 4:30 left.
Lehman scored the next six points, with four coming on a pair of foul shots and a basket by McFarland. The Tigers scored two late baskets to pull within six points by the end of the quarter but could hardly get the ball across half court in the first four minutes of the fourth.
Lehman will host Marion Elgin in a Northwest Central Conference game on Saturday.
TC North 17
BRADFORD — Bradford improved to 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Cross County Conference with an easy win Thursday night, 66-17 over Tri-County North.
Austy Miller led the Railroaders with 18 points.
Alexis Barhorst, Cassi Mead and Remi Harleman all scored nine points.
Miami East 61,
Miss. Valley 27
UNION CITY — Miami East only allowed two first-quarter points and dominated from start to finish Thursday night, kicking off 2020 with a 61-27 Cross County Conference victory at Mississinawa Valley.
Camryn Miller had 17 points and six assists to lead three Vikings (6-5, 4-2 CCC) in double figures on the night. Megan McDowell added 12 points, Paxton Hunley scored 10 and Cadence Gross chipped in eight points and 11 steals as the Vikings took a 19-2 lead after the first quarter, led 36-7 at halftime and 52-15 after three.
Miami East hosts Anna Saturday.
Other scores: Tri-Village 76, Bethel (7-6, 3-4 CCC) 31.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.