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Tuesday, January 14, 2014 9:22 PM


Staff Writer

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LIMA — Lima Senior’s full-court pressure defense was a nuisance to the depleted Elida Lady Bulldogs Monday night, forcing 34 turnovers on their way to a 75-50 non-league girls hardwood triumph at Spartan Gymnasium.

The Lady Spartans (10-2) received a terrific all-around game by senior Indiya Benjamin — 18 markers, 10 steals, six assists and three boards — along with 18 counters from Essence Cowan (5 steals, 5 boards) on 5 treys and 10 by Imari Haynes (5 blocks, 4 steals).

Elida — down senior lead guard Kylie Downton and junior Sabrina Kline — received 12 markers from sophomore Bailee Kuhn off the bench and 11 by junior Abby Waddle.

Still, Elida co-coaches Chrissy Billiter and Elise Jenkins didn’t use that as an excuse.

“We have six seniors and three juniors who have experience and we’re at the point in the season where we have to see who wants to play. It doesn’t matter who starts or who comes off the bench or who we have; we just need to play basketball,” Billiter said.

Elida scored first at 7:11 on a basket by senior Torie McAdams but Benjamin hit a 3-point play off a steal at 6:35 to take the lead. The Lady Bulldogs took their last lead on a deuce by Waddle but Cowan hit a free throw and Benjamin a deuce to give the Lady Spartans the lead for good at the 5-minute mark. By the time senior Cassidy Slusher scored for Elida next at 2:00, the Spartan edge was 12-6. Senior’s 1-2-1-1 diamond press and pressure man defense forced 13 Bulldog miscues in the first period but thanks to 7-of-22 shooting, they could only build an 18-8 lead at the 40-second mark on a steal and layin by Thompson before two singles by McAdams at 13.3 seconds made it 18-10.

Benjamin had nine counters and five steals in the first stanza.

The turnovers continued into the second stanza for Elida, though it was “only” nine this time around. However, thanks to 8-of-24 shooting from the field by the Spartans, they couldn’t take advantage. Elida was within 26-21 on a 3-ball from the key by Waddle at 1:50 before Lima Senior had a killer spurt — 11-2, keyed by four markers from Thompson, to take a 37-23 advantage on a buzzer-beating, high-bouncing Benjamin triple from the key.

Lima Senior continued its harassing full-court pressure into the third stanza — forcing 10 more mistakes — but this time, they took better advantage as they canned 11-of-22, including 4-of-6 trifectas. With Elida focused on trying to stop Benjamin and Thompson — who had her nose bloodied at 3:41) — Cowan caught fire, nailing all four bombs en route to 14 markers in the stanza. Senior’s biggest lead was 62-26 on a transition layin by Haynes at 1:34 before Elida got a basket by Waddle (1:09) and a 3-ball by senior Lauren Nolan (48 seconds) around a Cowan bomb to get within 65-31.

With Senior pulling off the press and starting to sub, as did Elida, the Bulldogs outscored the hosts 20-10 — with Kuhn dropping seven — to finish off the contest.

“It’s more mental right now than physical. We were within five points late in the second quarter but we didn’t find their big scorers and Benjamin hits a big three to end the half,” Jenkins added. “In the third period, you could just see us lose our confidence and we’re repeating the things we struggled with last year; we started to play scared. We can’t rebuild the girls’ confidence during a game once they lose it; we have to do it in practice.”

Elida shot 19-of-51 fielders (3-of-13 long range) for 37.3 percent and 9-of-16 at the line (56.3%); stacking up 46 boards (15 offensive) as McAdams had eight, Waddle seven and Kuhn and Carly Stetler six each; and 13 fouls.

“That’s how we ant to play; we want to press the crap out of our opponents. The only thing we didn’t do well the first half was convert,” Spartan coach Vince Halliday explained. “The second half, we simply started to make shots. Essence hit a couple of threes and that opens things up for others; we need her to do that with teams focused on Indiya and Rion.”

Lima Senior totaled 30-of-85 shots — 7-of-22 3-pointers — for 35.3 percent and 8-of-15 free shots (53.3%); 48 caroms, 24 offensive, as Shaquayla Johnson nabbed 11 and Miea Ward seven; 17 errors; and 13 fouls.

In junior varsity action, Lima Senior edged Elida 45-43.

Xavier Houston led the Lady Spartans with 11 and Asia Wilson and Keyamari Cornelius-Fuqua with 10.

Hope Carter and Mallory Etzler led the Lady ’Dawgs with 11 each.

Both return to action Thursday: Elida hosting Van Wert in the WBL and Lima Senior welcoming in unbeaten Notre Dame Academy in the TRAC.

ELIDA (50)

Brett Pauff 2-0-5, Abby Waddle 5-0-11, Cassidy Slusher 1-1-3, Ashley Lowry 0-0-0, Lauren Nolan 2-0-5, Torie McAdams 1-3-5, Carly Stetler 2-1-5, Bailee Kuhn 5-2-12, Mallory Etzler 0-1-1, Hope Carter 0-1-1, Skylar Hurst 1-0-2. Totals 16-3-9/16-50.


Leighton Wireman 1-0-3, Shaquayla Johnson 4-0-8. Asia Wilson 0-0-0, Indiya Benjamin 7-3-18, Xavier Houston 0-0-0, Miea Ward 2-0-4, Rion Thompson 5-2-12, Essence Cowan 6-1-18, Imara Haynes 4-2-10, Alexus Marable 0-0-0, Amelya Upthegrove 1-0-2. Totals 23-7-8/15-75.

Score by Quarters:

Elida 10 13 7 20 - 50

Lima Sr. 18 19 28 10 - 75

Three-point goals: Elida, Pauff, Waddle, Nolan; Lima Senior, Cowan 5, Benjamin, Wireman.



ELIDA (43)

Lauren Alexander 1-0-2, Karmyn Martinez 1-2-4, Skylar Hurst 1-4-6, Mariah Wise 2-0-4, Hope Carter 4-2-11, Sierra Fromm 1-0-2, Mallory Etzler 4-3-11, Kyleigh Gay 1-0-2. Totals 15-1-11/24-43.


Alyssa Arrick 2-0-4, Asia Frank 1-0-2, Aniya Frazier 2-0-4, Asia Wilson 5-0-10, Xavier Houston 4-2-11, Keyamari Cornelius-Fuqua 3-3-10, La’Quavia McGraw 1-0-2, Na’Omi Curtis 0-2-2. Totals 16-2-7/17-45.

Score by Quarters:

Elida 15 6 10 12 - 43

Lima Sr. 9 13 9 14 - 45

Three-point goals: Elida, Carter; Lima Senior, Houston, Cornelius-Fuqua.


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