Lady Blackhawks show grit in loss to Mechanicsburg


By Drew Terhall

UNION CITY — It was a rough first quarter for the Lady Blackhawks. They were down by 20+ points at one point. But as the game progressed, Mississinawa Valley chipped away at the lead.

In the end, they couldn’t get that one shot to go in for the lead or the win. They lost to a now 20-win Mechanicsburg team, 66-65, at home on Feb. 12.

Head coach Michael Paige said the team has been down early before. They were down 18 points to Union City earlier in the season and came back to win the game. Like they do with every game, they learned from that experience and used it in a future game.

“That game taught us a lot. It’s just about building on every game that you play. Our girls always keep fighting, that’s why I wasn’t real concerned with being down. I knew we would come back, I just figured we had have enough to finish it out,” Paige said.

Paige said the team started out of sync. They were turning over the ball and a higher rate than usual and let Mechanicsburg dictate the pace. While Mississinawa Valley liked to play fast, Mechanicsburg made them play out of control at a fast pace.

The Lady Indians scored in transition and had almost every shot they threw up go in. They had all the momentum from the start of the game.

With a small run by Mississinawa Valley at the end, they were down 29-14 after the first quarter. But things slowly started to go Mississinawa Valley’s way from the second quarter on.

Paige said once they slowed down, they took better care of the ball. The Lady Blackhawks made it a half-court game.

The defense stepped up to get some turnovers and stops while the offense strung together enough points to chip away at the lead.

At halftime, the Lady Blackhawks were down 36-28 at halftime. A once 20-point game turned to a single digit game. Mechanicsburg did all they could to take junior Taylee Woodbury out of the game. She had six points at halftime.

In the third quarter, Mississinawa Valley kept playing catch up. When ever they got close to Mechanicsburg, the Lady Indians went on a small run to get back to a double-digit lead.

Until the end of the third quarter, junior Syenna Purdin made a three in the final seconds to cut into the deficit. Mississinawa Valley was down 54-48 heading into the fourth quarter. Paige said with Mechanicsburg taking Woodbury out of the game at times and with sophomore Brooklynn Seubert not being able to play with an injury, some girls stepped up in a big way. He also said they need to learn to adapt when teams try to game plan Woodbury out of the game.

Then things started to get a bit chippy in the gym. It was a physical game and the referees allowed the players to be physical.

In the fourth quarter, sophomore Paige Emrick was hit in the face and went down hard. Both the home and away crowd made their voice heard while the floor was being cleaned and sanitized from any possible drops of blood.

Paige said up until that moment, both teams were able to stay composed in the heat of the battle.

“I thought they did until the incident that happened down there. Outside of that, I thought both teams we’re playing really well and playing really hard. Both teams wanted to win. We just got to keep fighting and keep going after it,” Paige said.

No initial call was made by the referees as it seemed like none of the three officials saw what happened. After the clean up was handled, Mississinawa Valley got the ball and play resumed.

The Lady Blackhawks kept fighting and fighting. Purdin and Woodbury made big threes to stay in the game. Seniors Ingrid Ojeda, Brenna Price and MacKenzea Townsend made plays to force a turnover or got a key bucket.

Before you knew it, it was a 66-64 game with 39.5 seconds left. Mississinawa Valley had their chances to get a lead from the free throw line. They made their own luck by getting loose balls or forcing a turnover on their side of the court.

But, the team was 7 for 12 from the free throw line and 3 for 6 in the fourth quarter from the line. Even with the ball in the remaining seconds, Mississinawa Valley couldn’t get one last shot to go in.

Paige said the injury to Emrick could have thrown off the focus of the team a little bit, but it’s still a learning experience they can build off of.

Woodbury led with 16 points. Purdin had 14 points and four made threes. Price reached double-digit points with 10. The team made nine threes.

Mississinawa Valley finishes the regular season with a 17-5 record and a 10-1 WOAC record. They will turn their attention to the OHSAA Division IV Southwest Girls Basketball sectional. As the fifth seed, they will take on 16th seed Riverside on Feb. 17 at Versailles High School at 12:30 p.m.

Paige said he wanted his team to play a team like Mechanicsburg before the tournament to get them ready for the tournament. The Lady Indians are a team that could be better than some of the teams the Lady Blackhawks will face in the tournament.

“That was the whole point of playing this team and why we rescheduled this game when they cancelled. We wanted to get ready for the tournament,” Paige said.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]

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