Story by Jim Horvath
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
According to Magnificat head coach Meghann Hubach, the third quarter has been a cause for concern for her Blue Streaks basketball team this season.
There were no such concerns Monday night.
Magnificat outscored visiting Medina 18-3 in the third quarter, breaking open a close game and moving on to a 60-48 win over the Bees in the final contest of the 2013 calendar year for both teams.
The Blue Streaks, now 7-2, used a combination of solid shooting, pressure defense and a strong presence on the boards to build on a narrow 28-24 halftime lead. Up to that point, the Bees had stayed close and narrowed the gap on 3-pointers from Jesse Holzman and Casey Midlik.
But as the third quarter got underway, the Blue Streaks went to work.
A drive for two by sophomore guard Anne Ubbing got the Blue Streaks started. A steal led to a free throw from senior Sarah Scelza, then an offensive rebound for two from senior post player Madeline Nickels made it 33-24.
Another 3-pointer from Midlik finally got Medina on the board in the second half. But the Blue Streaks scored the game's next 13 points, including offensive stick-backs from sophomore Elise Keshock and senior Colleen McGervey. A 3-pointer from sophomore Phoebe Sterba capped off the run.
When the smoke had cleared, Magnificat had taken control with a 46-27 lead.
"It was a great third quarter for us," said Hubach, whose team shot 47 percent from the floor, forced six turnovers and out-rebounded the Bees 13-3 in the frame. "We typically have not started well in the third quarter.
"It's been a little bit of a struggle for us this year, so I was happy to see that tonight. It's nice when you can come out in the third quarter and not necessarily put a team away, but help yourself out by getting a little bit of a lead like that," she said.
Medina head coach Karen Kase, whose team converted just one of 10 field goal attempts in the quarter, felt her team got away from its game plan.
"I thought in the first half we stuck to our game plan," Kase said. "We had a good plan coming in, and we did some very good things in the first half.
"But for some reason in the third quarter, right after we have our halftime talk and make some slight adjustments, we fizzled a little bit. We didn't do the little things we needed to do, like rebound, take care of the ball and talk to each other.
"And we didn't have that same sense of urgency that you saw us have in the fourth quarter. It was a snowball effect. One missed rebound or one turnover turned into five, and it kept rolling from there," she said.
In the fourth quarter, the Bees seemed to regain their confidence. Part of that was the return to the floor of senior forward Madi Tata, who had been out of the game with foul trouble.
Tata scored the Bees' first eight points of the quarter as the visitors went on a 11-4 run. But a pair of buckets from sophomore Lissy Roggenburk got Magnificat back on track and pushed the lead back out to 16 at 54-38.
"All good teams are going to make a run, and Medina hangs around," Hubach said. "They're scrappy and they play hard, so we knew they had a run coming. A good third quarter like that can really stabilize you so you don't have to come from behind or fight to hang on to that lead.
"It took a while, but we were able to get our transition game going. If you play good defense and get defensive stops it's a lot easier to score in transition. We feel our defense can generate our offense, and thankfully that was able to happen tonight," she said.
"I don't think you can look back and say because Madi was on the bench we fell apart in the third quarter," Kase said. "There were many things that happened, and Magnificat recognized them and took advantage.
"They're a very good defensive team, and offensively they move well without the ball. They're deep and skilled at every position, and with their subs that come in there's no letdown. So in that sense, the pressure just kept coming at us," she said.
The unofficial statistics showed Magnificat with a 33-24 advantage on the boards, while the Blue Streak defense forced 20 turnovers.
"In past games, we've not rebounded as well as we would have liked to," Hubach said. "We've given up too many second-chance opportunities, so that's been a big point of emphasis for us in practice over the past couple of days.
"Tonight I thought the girls did a good job of using their bodies, boxing out and going to get the ball," she added.
Keshock scored 17 points to lead the Blue Streaks, 11 of those coming in the first half. She also had eight rebounds, four of those coming in the third quarter. Sterba had nine points, while Roggenburk added eight. Sophomore Lily Schwind and Ubbing each chipped in with six.
For the Bees, now 4-5, Midlik followed up Tata with 12 points, while Holzman added eight.
"Our schedule is very, very tough," Kase said. "We played Mentor to triple overtime, we played Stow in our first game, and we've also faced Twinsburg. We have a lot of tough games coming up with a team that doesn't have a lot of varsity experience.
"But this gives us a good measuring stick and gets us prepared for our conference and the tournament," she added.
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