Although yet to play a Northwest Ohio Athletic League contest due to cancellations because of COVID-19, Liberty Center came into Friday’s matchup at Wauseon with just one loss. So the Indians knew they were dealing with a much improved Tiger girls basketball team.
Nevertheless, Wauseon would lead wire-to wire to pick up a 60-50 win over LC. Wauseon improved to 9-3 overall and 2-1 in the NWOAL after the victory.
“You don’t know for sure,” said Wauseon coach Dan Seiler on if this game met his expectations going in. “They got a lot of athletes. The girls play hard and they got a lot of bodies. When we only have the numbers that we have, it’s pretty obvious you’re just gonna run people at us and keep running people at us. They did a nice job of shutting Marisa (Seiler) down and keeping her under control. Which is fine, because we’ve got other girls that can score. But she just draws so much attention that’s nice too. That really opens up our lower blocks; and it really helps keep some girls open because she just gets so much attention.”
The Indians orchestrated a 9-2 run at the end of the first period to open up a double-digit lead. A bucket from Hayley Meyer followed by her two free throws, Marisa Seiler’s floater, and a Meyer three-point play around Cassidy Chapa’s hoop for the Tigers put the difference at 17-7 after one.
LC was able to steadily chip away at that deficit in the second quarter.
A Peyton Armey triple got them within five, 23-18, with 3:24 before halftime.
Chelsie Raabe responded for the Indians with two from the foul line, Alyssa Giesige scored on an inbound play at the other end, then Kadence Carroll of Wauseon split a pair at the line. Chapa’s drive and score with just 32 seconds remaining trimmed the LC deficit to 26-22 at the half.
Wauseon battled some foul trouble in the first half when Seiler garnered three in the first quarter and Meyer a pair by intermission. But, their bench was able to make an impact as the game progressed, helping to pick up the slack.
On that note, a total of seven players scored for the Indians.
“Our bench, it just keeps getting better and better every week,” coach Seiler said. “But when you play young girls, they make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, it’s how do you adjust to making that mistake. And that’s what we’ve really been trying to push; because, they make that mistake, they get down on themselves and then it affects the rest of their game. If we can get them just to move on to the next play and that’s really what we try to preach. I’d rather have you try something and fail than do nothing at all. I think our girls have really accepted that.”
A pair of hoops by Raabe helped Wauseon create some breathing room in the third. Her floater, plus a Seiler drive and score, another Armey three for the Tigers, and Raabe’s drive through the middle of the defense got it to 43-31 at the 2:14 mark.
However, Raabe would land awkwardly on the play and exit the game with a knee injury. She did not return to the contest.
Liberty Center’s Kate Mohler converted a fastbreak opportunity and Samantha Graber’s 3-pointer with 31 seconds left got the Tigers within seven heading into the fourth.
“That’s a good team. They play hard,” said coach Seiler. “We battled foul trouble big time this game, and that’s the way it is. We adjusted the best we could, and we thought ‘ok, we’re getting our feet underneath us.’ Then Chelsie goes down with a knee injury so that kind of hurt us. And it kind of set us back a little bit. I think our defense was pretty good at times. We made good decisions on offense — we rushed a few shots. I think we’re getting better at that aspect of the game.”
Mohler hit from long range 1:52 into the fourth which made the score 43-39. Addy Case and Ellie Rodriguez of Wauseon — two of the aforementioned bench players — and Chapa and Graber each took turns hitting shots to keep the margin at four, 47-43, with just under five minutes left to play.
However, Wauseon was able to close it out down the stretch behind a solid effort at the line. In the final four minutes they went 9 of 10 at the charity stripe.
The Indians had four in double figures. Autumn Pelok finished with 14 points, Meyer 13, Raabe 12 and Seiler 11.
For LC, Chapa notched 15 points, Armey 11 and Mohler 10.
Wauseon is at St. Ursula Tuesday and Swanton Thursday in a NWOAL contest.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.