By CHUCK RIDENOUR
Daily Globe Sports Editor
Even when Shelby had difficulty finding its shooting eye, their defense was still miserly.
By limiting visiting Willard to 26 percent shooting and single digits in each of the first three quarters, the Lady Whippets were able to offset their own cold shooting and pull out a 44-36 Northern Ohio League girls basketball win in the Dawg House Tuesday evening.
The red and gray upped their conference ledger to 7-0 and moved to 14-1 in all games. The Flashes slip to 2-5 in the league and 7-9 overall.
“We were able to get the ball inside and get close to the bucket. We just didn’t put them in. There was a lid on the bucket," said SHS coach Natalie Lantz as her club grappled with 17 of 54 shooting.
As Shelby struggled to get their offense untracked, especially in the opening 4:45, their ability to defend was solid.
“We still played good defense. We were getting stops on defense," said Lantz. “When you hold a team to 36 points... that’s a good defensive night."
Eventually, Kennadie Goth’s three pointer would break the Whippets scoring drought nearly five minutes into the game.
“It took a three to take the lid off," said Lantz.
With senior Sienna King going down with a knee injury in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter, sophomore Bailey Walter gave the conference leaders a boost.
Walter, who registered a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, hit one of two free throws with 1:53 showing on the clock and gave SHS the lead for good at 7-6.
Walter had Shelby’s first six points of the fourth quarter and totaled eight of the team’s first 10 points to help the red and gray build a 39-30 lead with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
“Bailey Walter came in and did a fantastic job off the bench, coming in and replacing Sienna when she went down," said Lantz.
Jackie Garrett’s running one hander with time running out spotted the Whippets a 13-8 lead after the first eight minutes.
With the red and gray going five minutes between baskets during quarter No. 2, the Crimson Flashes would only get as close as three points (15-12) on back-to-back hoops by Lydia Wiers.
SHS would strike for the last three baskets of the half, including the final two by Cierra Gurney, to lead 21-13 at the intermission.
Chelsea Barnd’s short jumper off an assist from Garrett propelled Shelby in front 27-15 at the 4:43 mark of the third frame. It was the biggest lead of the game. Garrett finished with five assists in the win.
The Whippets were in front 29-22 at the end of three.
Willard sliced the red and gray lead to three on two different occasions in the opening two minutes of the fourth, then Walter answered with a rebound basket and two free throws and Emma Randall swished two charity tosses - all in 92 seconds - to provide SHS with a 37-28 lead with four minutes to go.
The Flashes would get no closer than seven the rest of the evening.
After getting outworked on the boards in the opening two quarters, Shelby shored up its rebounding and finished with a 39-35 edge on the glass.
“We did a better job on the boards in the second half," said Lantz. Behind Walter with six caroms apiece was the trio of Maddi Fidler, Goth and Barnd.
Goth, who hit the game-winner in Saturday’s first-place battle with Bellevue, wound up with 15 points for the Whippets.
Wiers led Willard with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Sydney Stevens scored nine in the setback.
After sustaining her injury, King returned to the gym at halftime on crutches and her knee wrapped in ice and joined her teammates on the bench.
Lantz was unsure of King’s prognosis after the game but said “I pray its a better outcome than it sounds like it might be."
Shelby swings back into action Saturday afternoon with a NOL contest on the road against Tiffin Columbian.
Tuttle 3 0 7, Secor 2 1 6, Crawford 1 0 2, Wiers 5 0 10, Slone 1 0 2, Stevens 2 5 9, Totals 14-54 6-10 36.
Goth 6 2 15, Garrett 1 1 3, Barnd 1 0 2, Fidler 1 0 2, Randall 0 2 2, Gurney 2 0 4, Walter 6 4 16, Totals 17-54 9-14 44.
Willard 8 5 9 14 -36
Shelby 13 8 8 15 -44
Three-point field goals - Tuttle (W), Secor (W), Goth (S). Rebounds - Willard 35, Shelby 39. Turnovers - Willard 21, Shelby 16.