SPRINGFIELD – It was not the result Greenville girls basketball coach Rachel Kerns and her players had hoped for on Saturday.
The Lady Wave exploded offensively in the second quarter to take a 14-10 lead into halftime, but their opponent – the Bellefontaine Chieftains – saved their offensive explosion for the fourth quarter when it counted most to knock Greenville out of the Division II sectional tournament, 34-29.
“Without a doubt we were two evenly matched teams and that was the matchup we wanted,” Kerns said.” Draw wise it worked out about as good as it could, but offensively we weren’t as effective as we needed to be today.”
Haleigh Mayo-Behnken got the game started with a bucket for a 2-0 lead for Greenville, but the Chieftains outscored the Lady Wave 8-2 the rest of the way in the first period for an 8-4 lead. In the second quarter, Greenville’s offense and defense was on fire in scoring 10 points and holding Bellefontaine to just 2. In fact, it was Bellefontaine’s Hannah Rader who scored the first bucket of the quarter and then Greenville went on a 10-0 run taking it to halftime with a 4-point lead. Mayo-Behnken started the run with a 3-pointer followed by a deuce from senior Lani Shilt at the 5:28 mark. A few minutes later, Shilt connected on the second of two free throws to tie the game 10-10. With 1;12 left, Nyesha Wright hit a pair of free throws and Annie Hayes sank the final basket of the quarter with 2 seconds left for a 14-010 Greenville lead.
The third quarter was pretty even between the two teams, but Greenville maintained its lead by one point (24-23) heading to the final stanza. Morgan Gilbert open the fourth frame with a layup to push the Lady Wave up 26-23, but Greenville had too many fouls and got No. 7 early on the the frame that started putting Bellefontaine at the line. The Chieftains hit 4-of 6 free throws over the next several minutes to take a 27-26 lead and then Anna West got a stickback basket at 3:48 to go up 29-26. Greenville made every effort the rest of the way, but not get back in front of Bellefontaine, which advances to play Eaton in the next round of the tournament.
“Give Bellefontaine some credit. They mixed up their defenses,” Kerns said. “We were hoping they would play us a little bit more man, but they didn’t like doing that because we made them pay when they did go man. In their zone, we just didn’t shoot the ball very well as a team. We took some not-so-great shots, but really it was just that we were not very effective on the offensive end today. We just left too many shots out there.”
It was the final game for four Greenville seniors – Shilt, Jada Garland, Koryann Elliott and Saki Nakamura. Nakamura was unable to play in the game due to an injury, but Kerns heaped plenty of praise on her leaders.
“These four seniors are a great group of girls,” Kerns said. “It is really unfortunate that Saki didn’t get to finish with us. She has been with us four years and it has been great to have her and Koryann, Jada and Lani too. I told them there is a reason that Greenville started winning some basketball games and those four are a big reason why. Absolutely we are going to miss them, but as a coach and moving forward there are shoes to be filled and now we are going to see who chooses to step up over this offseason.
”I hope the example those seniors set motivates the younger players to keep leading by example,” she continued. “Right now emotions are high and feelings are raw, but we have to have a much better offseason and summer this year than what we did last year and that is going to have to come from the girls who want to get better.”
Score by quarters
Greenville – Haleigh Mayo-Behnken 5 2 13, Nyesha Wright 0 2 2, Lani Shilt 2 1 6, Morgan Gilbert 1 0 2, Jada Garland 1 0 3, Annie Hayes 1 1 3. Totals: 10 6 29.
Bellefontaine – Aubrey Stolly 3 5 13, Caitlyn Shumaker 0 1 1, Chalony Tolliver 3 2 8, Kailynn Kenner 1 0 2, Anna West 1 1 3, Hannah Rader 2 3 7. Totals: 10 12 34.
3-pointers – Greenville 3 (Mayo-Behnken 1, Shilt 1, Garland 1), Bellefontaine 2 (Stolly 2).
Records: Greenville (10-12), Bellefontaine (10-13).
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.