SIDNEY — By controlling the paint both offensively and defensively, Mechanicsburg ousted Botkins, 61-41, in the second round of the Division IV Southwest District Tournament Tuesday night.
With the loss, Botkins ends its season with an 8-12 mark. The Indians, now 17-4, advances to the quarterfinals against the winner of the Fort Loramie contest.
Trojans varsity coach Don Mack said the Indians’ defense proved to be the difference in the game.
“They had active hands and we would not recognize it and we would turn to throw that pass and they would have a hand in there and therefore we would panic versus taking what they were giving us,” Mack said. “Then we would try to force it and make silly turnovers and then we got really passive and when you get passive they dictate what you are doing and you are not successful.”
Mechanicsburg varsity coach Christie Dodane said coming into the game, they wanted to control the boards, apply double-team pressure on the guards and takeaway Botkins’ inside game.
“I think that we boxed out better and that was one thing we talked about we needed to do coming because we know Botkins is an excellent boxing out team and we also know their big kids inside are strong so we talked about giving them one chance to score and I thought that was the difference in the ballgame,” Dodane said. “We concentrated on doubling down when they got the ball inside and also stopping their drives.”
Early signs of the Indians inside domination came in the first quarter when Mechanicsburg jumped out to a 10-0 lead to open the game and held a 13-2 advantage with 4:28 left in the first quarter. Indian post player Tori Purk, who would pump in a game-high 21 points, spearheaded the Indian offense with 11 points in the first eight minutes.
Despite breaking out to the double-digit advantage, Botkins fought back and the Trojans went on a 12-4 run, thanks to some key buckets from Cassie Bergman, Michaela Kramer and Logan Pitts, sliced the lead to 17-4 at the 1:42 mark of the first quarter and after one period, the Indians led 20-14.
The big offensive outburst by the Trojans to curtail the Indians momentum apparently took its toll on Botkins and it showed in the second period when they were outscored 15-5 and garnered control of the game.
“They were able to handle any kind of pressure we threw at them and the big girl killed us in the first half,” Mack said.
In that second stanza, the Indians defense forced costly turnovers and numerous errant passes by the Trojans. The Indians also clamped down on their interior presence but shutting out Trojan post player Pitts and allowing just two field goals i n that pivotal stretch.
“That probably hurt the worst,” said Mack about his team’s woes in the second quarter. “They are a good team and they have active hands and when we tried to make passes they got hands on that led to fast break points.”
Any chance of a comeback by the Trojans was quickly quelled by the Indians who outscored Botkins 13-5 in the first six minutes to go up 33-19 and then closed out the quarter 9-2 to capture control of the contest.
Mack said he was disappointed with the loss but said this year’s team has come a long way since the beginning of the season.
“This team has made strides this year,” Mack said. “They have improved since day one and I can’t ask any more of them from that retrospect but if we are going to do better against teams like this we are going to have to get mentally tougher.”
In the losing effort, senior Christine Johnson, donning the black and gold for the final time, knocked in nine points and grabbed eight rebounds. Haley Billing, also playing her last time as a Trojan added seven points.
“I feel bad for our two seniors,” Mack said. “They really helped establish things this year as the foundation of improving. I hate to go out like this but there is nothing we can do but work harder to get better.”
Hoffman 1-0-2, Cochran 3-0-6, Dunlap 2-0-6, B. Dodane 1-2-5, J. Dodane 5-3-14, Hux 2-1-5, Purk 6-9-21; 20-15-61
McCullough 1-0-2, Koch 1-0-2, Kramer 3-2-8, Billing 3-1-7, Bergman 3-0-8, Johnson 3-3-9, Pitts 2-1-5; 16-7-41;
3-pointers: Botkins: Bergman (2) MBurg: Dunlap (2) J. Dodane (1)