BASKETBALL: Bearcats edge Tigers in final seconds

SPENCERVILLE — Spencerville’s Jennifer Post layup with just under 10 seconds left on the clock propelled the Bearcats past Waynesfield-Goshen, 55-53, in a non-league confrontation Saturday.

The loss dropped the Tigers to 5-7 on the season. Spencerville improved to 6-7 for the year.

The Tigers did get a last second attempt by Kaylee Patton at the buzzer. But her driving shot towards the basket fell short to overshadow what was a huge game for the sharp-shooting junior who pumped in a game-high 41 points and kept her team in the game with several clutch baskets.

Spencerville was able to offset Patton’s shooting performance by continually exploiting the Tigers interior defense. Bearcat inside players Abby Freewalt, who finished with 20 points, and Post combined for 37 points.

“Our bigs didn’t do a very good job defending inside,” said Tiger varsity coach Ted Patton. “We kind of let them score at will underneath the basket and then we didn’t box out so we gave them an offensive board and when you do that you are not going to be successful.”

Another area that hurt the Tigers was their inability to hit from the perimeter. As a team, Waynesfield-Goshen was just 4-of-23 from 3-point range. Only three Tigers cracked the scoring column.

“That is part of our game and if we are not hitting from the outside it really kind of hurts us a little bit,” Patton said. “We weren’t hitting today.”

Spencerville varsity coach Katie Krieg said the game plan was to establish the inside game.
“We were going to feed it into our post and we knew we could finish against them,” she said. “We have quick athletic post players so we were really going to use it to our advantage.”

Krieg added that on what turned out to be the game-winning bucket, their intention was to get it inside if at all possible.

“We called the time out and set it up and got it in and took it in and feeding it where ever it was open, whether it was a three or a lay-up so it worked out,” she said.

As for Patton, Krieg said she knew they were going to have their hands full with the perennial all-conference candidate but she wanted to make sure another Tiger didn’t step up to beat them.

“We knew she was going to get her points because she is very good and our plan was to just to guard everyone else hard and play good position defense,” Krieg said. “We were trying to keep her in the 20’s but we didn’t succeed but I think we did everything else right.”

With Spencerville relying on their inside play and the Tigers riding the Patton scoring train, the two teams battled evenly throughout most of the first half and after the first eight minutes, the Bearcats owned a 14-12 advantage.

Without much help offensively from her teammates, Patton and co. watched as Spencerville opened up its biggest lead 29-21 with just over one minute remaining in the first half after back-to-back buckets from Freewalt.

However, Patton curbed the Bearcat momentum with by completing a three-point play and as the buzzer finally sounded for halftime, Spencerville owned a 30-24 lead.

With some halftime defensive adjustments and neutralizing the Bearcats inside game, the Tigers outscored Spencerville, 14-5, in the first five minutes of the second half to grab its first lead, 38-35, since the first period.

“We tried to pack it in more on the and not full pressure on the ball to give them (inside players) more help,” said Patton about his team’s limited success on Spencerville’s inside play.

But the Tigers could not maintain the newly found momentum and the Bearcats scored six unanswered points to to regain a three-point lead, 41-38.  A Patton bucket late cut the lead back to one and with eight minutes remaining, the Bearcats led, 41-40.

Spencerville garnered the early lead in the fourth quarter and went up 48-43 after yet another inside bucket Freewalt with 3:34 left in the game.

Even though both teams had struggled from the outside, Tiger Sydney Buffenbarger pumped one in from treyland to slice the lead down to two. But the Bearcats, who also had trouble converting from the outside, matched Buffenbarger’s three.

However, quicker than you could say “from behind the arc,” Patton pumped in a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game, 51-49 with just under two minutes to play.

Freewalt once again hurt the Tigers when her stick back on an offensive rebound with 1:20 left in the game, gave the Bearcats a 4-point lead. But Patton hit consecutive baskets to tie the game at 53-53.

“I think the only time you have a good loss is when you get something from it and I think this will sit hard but the kids will get something from this,”  Patton said.