STRYKER — Stryker’s girls basketball team jumped on Wauseon early in each of the first three quarters on the way to a 39-31 non-league victory on Monday at Stryker High School.
“Our mental focus at the beginning and after half was great,” Panthers’ coach Conner Varner said.
Stryker (14-3) defended in a 1-3-1 zone and it caused issues for Wauseon’s (9-8) offense from the start.
The opening tip was won by the Indians and the first possession lasted 55 seconds before Abby Oberlin stole an entry pass into the post. The Panthers moved as a unit defensively and quickly recovered after every pass Wauseon made.
“Gabby Ramon stepped up and played in the middle of the defense,” Varner said. “I don’t think she scored at all tonight but she was huge for our defense. She’s a tough player. She might not be in the paper for stats, but if there was a stat for how many times she knocked down a cutter, Gabby would get that reward tonight.”
Ramon finished with five rebounds, all defensive.
Sage Woolace scored a game-high 17 points and got started early in the first quarter. She scored the first basket of the game after cutting behind the defense on the baseline and catching a pass from Ramon before finishing a layup.
On the next possession, Woolace drained a 3-pointer from the corner and scored the first five points for the Panthers. She finished the first quarter with nine points.
Hayley Meyer scored in the post to give Wauseon a 7-6 lead with 3:13 remaining in the first. The lead lasted all of 33 seconds before Alexia Wickerham made a 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the frame. Stryker led the rest of the game and Wickerham scored 15 points and hit one 3 in each quarter.
Stryker led 13-7 after one and Woolace kept the pressure on to begin the second. She scored four straight points and forced a timeout from Wauseon. After the timeout, Stryker forced a turnover and Laura Leupp got fouled and made both of her free-throws to continue the run for the Panthers.
Defense was the basis for sustaining the lead during the second-quarter run. Stryker forced four turnovers and didn’t allow a point in the quarter until a Meyer layup ended the 9-0 Stryker run with 2:12 left to go in the half.
Sophia Rupp converted a buzzer-beating three for Wauseon to trim the deficit to 22-12 heading into the locker room.
Just like the second quarter, Stryker went on another run to begin the third. This time it was an 8-0 run that began with a 3-pointer from Emmalee Fulk.
Wauseon began to apply more pressure halfway through the third and got within eight points of the Panthers with 3:02 left in the game.
Mackenzie Stasa was active on defense and scored all of her eight points during Wauseon’s second-half run.
The Indians ran out of time and a 13-point fourth quarter was not enough to come all the way back.
“Our effort has always been there but missing shots has haunted us all season and it continues to,” Wauseon coach Dan Seiler said. “A lot of credit to Stryker they played hard and had a great game plan. It was a good win for them.”