UTICA — As NFL Films voice-over master John Facenda would say, “Great teams aren’t always great. They’re just great when they have to be.”
The Centerburg Trojans girls basketball team erased an 11-point deficit in the fourth period to win at Utica, 51-46, on Thursday to secure a share of the Mid-Buckeye Conference title.
It took a monumental effort on the part of the Trojans. Utica had been outshooting, outrunning and outhustling Centerburg through three quarters, dictating the pace of the game.
But as the Trojans hit their shots in the fourth, they pressed the Redskins. It forced Utica out of its game plan. Centerburg outscored Utica in the fourth, 19-4, forcing six turnovers and allowing Utica to shoot just 2-for-11.
“These kids decided they wanted to win,” Centerburg head coach Todd Nauman said. “That was the difference (in the fourth).”
“(Centerburg) played well,” Utica head coach Michelle Snow said. “They went out, played with intensity.”
In contrast, the Trojans outrebounded Utica, 13-7, in the fourth. The team that had been beat to the loose balls was suddenly taking over.
“At halftime, we challenged our girls to come out and play basketball the way they’re capable of playing, instead of letting (Utica) dictate what they’re going to do,” Nauman said. “In the fourth quarter, we did what we’re capable of doing.”
“Lindsey Daniels gave us a huge lift in the second half,” Nauman continued. “(She) got a tie-up, we got possession and scored after that. Carly Compton ... was huge. Tristen Simpson stepped up and did what she’s capable of doing –– stepping up, putting pressure on. And of course, Mackenzie (Stoyle), Claire (Harvey) and Bre (Campbell).”
Compton led the comeback with eight points and eight rebounds in the second half. She ended the night with a double-double –– 14 points, 10 boards.
Harvey stepped up as well, scoring seven of her 12 points in the second half. And Simpson scored just two points, but her defense late in the game kept the Redskins from getting easy shots in the post, and kept them away from gathering rebounds.
Utica’s Myranda Wolfe had dominated the game up to that point. She led everyone on the floor with 17 points and 15 rebounds. However, everything but two points came in the first three quarters.
“(Wolfe) went out there and played hard for all four quarters,” Snow said. “She went out there, pounded it inside. She got mugged, but continued to battle.”
The crowd was a little more energetic than usual. Centerburg had a particularly large following at the game. Many in attendance knew that an MBC title was likely on the line. And, it seemed, many were just happy to not be iced in their homes for a change.