Down double digits and struggling to score in the second quarter of a Division IV Central District tournament opener Tuesday, Feb. 21, No. 3 seed Shekinah Christian didn’t panic, instead it chose to shoot itself out of trouble.
Despite scoring just three points in the first quarter and 11 total in the first half, the Flames caught fire early in the second half and ultimately pulled away from No. 11 Delaware Christian for a 42-33 post-season victory in a game played at Jonathan Alder High School.
“I would say it was our defensive pressure, it kind of feeds into our offense,” first-year coach Ernie Yutzy said. “We got aggressive on defense and actually started hitting some open shots, which helped us with our confidence and we also reduced our turnovers in the second half.”
The defensive stops were one thing, limiting the ball-handling mistakes was another, but the sheer willingness to take and make big shots that some coaches might deem as ill-advised proved to be the difference
“We kind of have a philosophy, play great defense, limit turnovers and take good open shots,” the coach said. “So in our offense if you get a good open shot, I expect the shot to go up. I’ve tried to instill that in them.”
Message received. The Flames (18-5) were fearless in launching long-range shots against the Delaware Christian 2-3 zone defense. Natalie Headings led Shekinah with a game-high 17 points, including the team’s first nine points of the second half.
She was fouled shooting a three-point basket and proceeded to hit two of the three free throws, making it 19-13. She then banked in a three pointer to cut the deficit to 19-16. Delaware scored to go back up five (21-16) but Headings then scored on a drive to the basket on one offensive trip, and on the very next one she scored on a put-back of her own missed jumper closing the gap to 21-20.
Delaware got a score to make it 23-20, but Mandi Scheffel scored and Madison Miller connected on a wide open three pointer with 1:00 left to go in the third quarter to give the Flames a 25-23 lead which they would not surrender. Scheffel and Miller both finished with nine points in the game, while Koe Yutzy chipped in seven.
The coach said his team had been in similar situations this season and once again was able to shake off the sluggish start.
“I told them we’ve been here before, we have slow starts occasionally,” Yutzy said. “But I told them you have to start doing the little things better, you have to start believing. This was the third time we played Delaware, we split with them before this so we knew we could come back, we just had to start believing it.
“Slow starts are not uncommon, but we have been able to overcome them. We’re excited about the win and to be moving on.”
Shekinah advances to the second round of the district tournament and will play host to Village Academy Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. The game will again be played at Jonathan Alder.
No. 11 Grandview 49,
No. 9 West Jefferson 47, OT
Grandview’s Lauren Collier scored a career-high 30 points including six in overtime as the visiting Bobcats knocked off No. 9 West Jefferson Tuesday in the opening round of the D-III Central District tournament.
Collier converted three-point play with just :05 remaining in regulation. She then stayed hot in the extra session as the Bobcats (15-8) brought an end to the season for the Lady Roughriders (15-8).
West Jeff was led by Sydney Loony’s 14 points, Hope Lewis added 11.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.