Van Wert senior Claire Butler was one of three Lady Cougars to share the team lead with 13 points on Saturday afternoon at Fort Recovery. Butler scored seven in the second quarter to bring her team back from a 21-14 deficit. (Times Bulletin file photo)
By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
FORT RECOVERY — That must have been one heck of a halftime speech.
Van Wert’s Lady Cougars came out sluggish as they traveled to Fort Recovery for Saturday afternoon basketball. The Lady Cougars were a step slow on offense, a step slow on defense and a step slow on the boards and the feisty Lady Indians built a 21-14 first-half advantage on the scoreboard despite sloppy play on both sides. It took a 6-0 Van Wert run over the final 2:26 to bring the Cougars to with one at 21-20 at the intermission.
Van Wert had committed a dozen turnovers in the opening half and was 9-for-25 (36 percent) shooting, including 0-for-9 from three-point range.
“We were off for two weeks,” noted Van Wert head coach Lance Moonshower of his team’s early-game woes. “That’s no excuse, but (our girls) were a little sluggish and a little rusty.”
During that 10-minute halftime break, the Lady Cougars woke up.
Van Wert came out firing on all cylinders in the third, as junior guard Riley Jones got the party started with a three from the wing to put the Lady Cougars up 23-21 - their first lead since it had been 11-10. After a Cassidy Rammel put-back re-knotted the game, junior Erin Morrow drilled a triple of her own and senior Kaitlynn Hall knocked down a three from the corner to give Van Wert a six-point cushion.
The Cougars kept rolling, getting a fast-break bucket by Claire Butler and a pair of free throws by Alexis Dowdy to build a 33-23 lead halfway through the third.
Fort Recovery would battle back with an 8-0 run, six of those coming from sophomore Kendra Siefring, but a three-pointer by Cheyenne Handy and a Butler steal and layup made it 38-35.
The Lady Indians had gotten the lead down to three on Rammel’s two free throws with under ten seconds to go in the third, but Van Wert’s Emilee Moonshower, who entered the game during the foul shots, got free for a bomb from the corner just before the buzzer sounded and Van Wert held a 41-35 lead going to the fourth.
Four quick Indian points brought them to within two at 41-39 and again at 43-41, but the Lady Cougars got back-to-back threes from Morrow and Handy to make it an eight-point game and effectively seal the win.
“I thought we came out in the second half and did the kind of stuff we were trying to do in the first half,” added coach Moonshower, whose team was 14-of-27 (52 percent) after the break and made 7-of-11 from three-point range.
“(Making shots) helps. It makes coaches look good when we can knock down three threes (to start the third). A lot of it was just ball movement. We didn’t move the ball very well in the first half and we started moving it better in the second half and we got better shots,” Moonshower said.
The Lady Cougars improved to 7-3 on the year with the victory. Van Wert had four players reach double figures while Fort Recovery had just two. Van Wert claimed the win despite being out-rebounded 31-21 for the game, including 13-4 on the offensive glass.
Score by quarters
Van Wert 11 9 21 19- 60
Fort Recovery 13 8 14 17- 52
Van Wert (60) individual scoring
Jones 3, Hall 5, Morrow 10, Butler 13, Dowdy 13, Handy 13, Moonshower 3, Bair 0, Dunlap 0, Weigel 0
Fort Recovery (52) individual scoring
Schoenherr 8, Pugh 5, Jutte 11, Siefring 17, Rammel 7, Wendel 0, Evers 2, Stammen 2, Vogel 0