4th quarter keys Champion over LaBrae
CHAMPION — Champion went from being down by one at the end of the third quarter Saturday afternoon to winning by 12, defeating the LaBrae Vikings in an All-American Conference Blue Tier girls basketball battle, 50-38.
“It was what we expected,” Golden Flashes coach Michael Cole said. “They’re hot. They’re coming in I think winning five, six games in a row. They’ve beaten Brookfield, Liberty and Falls and one other team the last four games. We knew this was going to be a tough one, plus it’s a border game, rival game.
“This is exactly what we expected. I just think we really turned the defense up in the second half, especially that fourth quarter. A lot of tipped balls where we were getting steals, rebounds, gutting it out. This was a definite big time defensive win today.”
The victory clinched a tie for the Blue Tier title for Champion (16-5, 11-2). The Golden Flashes’ final game is against Liberty.
The Flashes had a very slow third quarter only scoring five points. Their defense held strong however, and didn’t let them fall out of the game.
“We were cold,” Cole said. “I thought we were getting the shots we wanted, we just weren’t making them. I told them just to keep attacking because there were a couple gaps that we could’ve got through on the drive and we got to the rim a couple times.
“Our thing is to just play defense. We’re going to win with our defense and rebounding. The rest is just gravy.”
Savannah Dodrill scored all of her eight points in the fourth quarter, leading the team during that final quarter. Most impressive to her coach however, was her defensive effort.
“She’s the best defensive player I’ve ever coached,” Cole said. “I’ve coached boys and girls, I’ve been doing it for 20 years. No one plays defense like her. We have probably the best defensive player. When we’re playing man that’s why she’s up there at the top of that zone. She’s just a one-woman press by herself.
“I don’t know how many tips she had on layups, but it wasn’t even a trap, it was just her scrambling and maximum effort. I don’t care who you are, if you play with maximum effort like she does, good things will happen.”
Champion had three scorers reach the double-figure mark. Allison Smith led the Flashes, scoring 13 points. Brooke Whitt scored 12 points, and Emma Gumont added 11.
Leading the Vikings (14-6, 7-6) was Marissa Roberts who scored 16 points. Paige Wilson potted 12, nine of which came in the Vikings’ hot third quarter.
“I thought we played three and a half quarters well,” Vikings coach Mandy Rowe said. “Then they started trapping and turned up their defensive pressure and the rebounding killed us. We gave them multiple shots on each possession and they’re going to make one eventually.
“They played well, they pressured our guards and hats off to them for a good game. We’re going to regroup Monday, come back ready to go to get ready for Crestview.”
Smith left the game in the third quarter, but is expected to return to the lineup soon.
LaBrae closes its season against Crestview before tournament play begins. The Vikings, seeded third in the Division III Lakeview District, will face the Warrensville Heights-Conneaut winner.
Champion, the top seed in the district, faces the Grand Valley-Cardinal winner.