West Holmes Girls Basketball

Magnificat magnificent in disposing of Lady Knights 50-40 in CitC

Kacie Leppla

Not many teams find it in their heart to attack West Holmes’ gutsy defense and hit the half-century mark, but in game 29 of Classic in the Country, Magnificat did just that in a 50-40 victory that ended the Lady Knights’ eight-game winning streak.

“Those teams that get to 50 usually beat us,” said West Holmes coach Lisa Ogi.

The Blue Streaks were able to put up the 50-spot by being patient and precise on the offensive side of the ball, while forcing the Lady Knights into a number of turnovers, especially in the first half.

Coming off an impressive 44-40 victory over 11-3 Chippewa, the Lady Knights simply never found solid footing and failed to put together any kind of threat once it fell behind by double figures.

“We didn’t come out very aggressive, we were kind of lackadaisical,” Ogi said of her team. “We kind of went through the motions early, and some of the kids kind of remained that way the rest of the way.”

The first half was certainly not the start Ogi wanted to see from a team trying to reel off a ninth straight victory.

Kacie Leppla scored off asset play inside for the Lady Knights, but Magnificat quickly answered with buckets from Abby Adler and Theresa Farnan to take the lead. Adler then split two free throws before Alexis Hunter dropped in a jumper to rim the deficit to 5-4.

Trailing 8-4 after a Farnan three-ball, Celeste Ryman launched from downtown and connected, and West Holmes trailed 10-7 after one quarter.

That lead grew to 14-7, and West Holmes was having trouble finding a decent look against a swarming Magnificat defense, but Taylor Yerian found herself open at the top of the key and canned a 3-pointer to trim the Blue Streaks lead to 14-10. Sammie Hall sandwiched a score in between a pair of high-arching 3-pointersfrom Sara Spicer, and West Holmes ended the half with a Kacie Leppla score inside, trailing 20-14.

Kylie Leppla opened the second half scoring by slicing through the Blue Streaks defense after a Hall steal, Colleen Woidke scored inside, then after a steal she hit two free throws to move the lead back out to eight at 24-16.

West Holmes continued to struggle with Magnificat’s pressure, making each possession that much more important, especially because West Holmes is not built to be a come-from-behind team.

Asia McAuliffe scored inside before Hall split through a pair of defenders to get to the lane, where she made two charity tosses to trim the deficit to 26-18.

Throughout the game the Knights just seemed to be a step behind, but Kacie Leppla’s two free throws and Kylie Leppla scored, but each time West Holmes challenged Magnificat seemed to have the answer. McAuliffe scored inside again and West Holmes committed a second straight turnovers, and McAuliffe went right back to work to make it 34-22.

“Kylie made some uncharacteristic turnovers, but she played 32 minutes two nights earlier and had one turnover. I’m sure she was pretty exhausted, and that wasn’t the reason for the loss. We found out that we have to work on some clock management things.”

A third straight turnover fleshed out how the West Holmes struggles were hurting the Lady Knights, and Woidke drained a triple before Kaylee Evans scored inside to make it 37-24. West Holmes got a stop, and as time expired, Ryman nailed 3-pointer to give the Lady Knights some steam heading into the final eight minutes.

Ryman quickly capitalized on that momentum, driving the lane, getting fouled and making a free throws to cut the deficit to nine, but Magnificat continued to pound the ball deep, and McAuliffe scored again.

Early in the fourth quarter, Farnan went down low to score, before Ryman pierced through several defenders for an and-one after another Hall steal to make it 42-31.

But trialing by 11 with under four minutes to go is not a position that Ogi wanted to see her team in, because while the Lady Knights may be relentless on defense, scoring points in bunches is not necessarily the team’s forte.

“”When you only score 40 to 50 points per game, that 10-point deficit is a much bigger hurdle to overcome,” Ogi said.

With West Holmes misfiring on threes, Magnificat continued to be extremely patient on offense, working the ball around the perimeter until finding what it wanted inside, where Woidke found herself wide open for a score that pushed the lead to 44-31. She duplicated that effort on the next trip down the floor, and the Blue Streaks were streaking away at 46-31. Yerian knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:41 left, but it was far too little too late.

Yerian would connect again the next trip down the floor to trim it to 46-37, and Ryman would knock down a long-ball to make it 48-40, but time simply ran out on the Lady Knights.

“I told Taylor Yerian in the locker room that she was the only kid who outhustled them,” Ogi said. “She showed some toughness and played really hard.”

She noted that Ryman showed flashes of what she brings to the table offensively, with her scorer’s mentality. Ogi said she simply has to crank up her defensive effort.

Ogi said that despite the loss her team was able to gain plenty of valuable time against a good team.

“Going 1-1 is way better than going 0-2,” Ogi said. “We didn’t compete tonight and that can happen. This is a good learning experience for us. We have knocked up a couple of Ws here in a row, and maybe we needed knocked back a couple of pegs.”

Farnan scored 11 points, McAuliffe added eight and six boards, Spicer scored 10 and Woidke added 11 points and four rebounds as she continues to come back from a lengthy injury lay-off of close to two years. West Holmes was led by Celeste Ryman who knocked down a game-high 13 points on three 3-pointers, while Taylor Yerian matched her from long distance in producing nine points.

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