By DAN WOODLOCK
Special to the Daily Globe
WILLARD - In a game more reminiscent of March than November, it was Shelby that survived Saturday night’s tourney-esque battle at Willard.
With points at a premium, the Lady Whippets used a late second quarter burst to grab the lead, outlasting the Flashes in a defensive-dominated second half for a 40-33 victory in the Northern Ohio League opener for both schools.
After hitting Shelby with an 11-0 second quarter run that built a seven-point advantage (17-10), Willard was limited to just 12 points in the entire second half, landing just 4-of-19 field goal attempts and 4-of-13 shots from the free throw line.
Both teams finished at just 31 percent shooting from the field, and neither team reached double figures offensively in any quarter, other than a 15-14 second period, in favor of the Flashes.
Jackie Garrett scored eight of her 10 points in the first half for the Whippets (3-1, 1-0) and helped the visitors wrestle free of Willard’s early defensive stranglehold.
The Flashes blanked Shelby over the first 4:21 of play, creating six turnovers and blocking two of the four shot attempts the Whippets hoisted in that stretch.
A steal and fast-break bucket by Garrett and another transition layup by Garrett off of a steal by Kennadie Goth bumped Shelby ahead (4-3) with 2:35 to play in the period. The SHS defense quietly matched Willard’s effort in the quarter, as the Flashes were held to just 2-of-13 shooting. The Whippets carried a slim 8-6 edge into the second period.
Maddie Crawford, who topped Willard (1-1, 0-1) with 11 points, to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, scored five points, including a three-point jumper, during an 11-point second quarter run in less than two minutes.
Goth, who was held scoreless the first 12-plus minutes, ignited a 12-2 Shelby run with a driving, off-balance bucket in the paint at the 3:33 mark of the quarter. Crawford beat the buzzer with a runner off of a sideline inbounds play, chipping the Whippets’ lead to 22-21 at the break.
Both teams struggled out of the gate to start the second half, combining for more than four minutes of scoreless basketball. Willard committed seven turnovers and attempted only one field goal attempt in nearly five minutes of play, while Shelby had a bevy of chances offensively, but failed to convert, going 0-for-11 with four turnovers of their own.
The visitors finally broke through on a three-point field goal by Siena King for a 25-21 lead with 3:35 left in the third.
An inbounds basket by Gabi Baldridge helped Willard tie the game at 27, but two fast-break baskets by Chelsea Barnd and Goth - via one of her five steals - helped boost the guests to a 31-28 lead heading into the fourth.
The Flashes could never pull closer than three in the fourth, with the last opportunity coming at the one-minute mark on a stick-back by Lydia Wiers, narrowing the WHS deficit to 36-33.
Maddi Fidler tallied eight points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as Shelby managed to match the Flashes on the glass at 31 each. Goth chipped in with eight points and seven rebounds in the win.
Baldridge tallied seven points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for Willard. Maddie Branham also tallied seven points in the loss.The Whippets are idle until Tuesday, Dec. 8, when Ontario invades for a NOL clash.