TROTWOOD – The Bradford girls basketball team overcame a 9-0 start by Springfield Catholic, then survived two overtimes for a 52-47 win in the 2nd round of the OHSAA DIV Trotwood girl’s sectional tournament.
In the opening quarter the Lady Irish took away the dribble drive doing everything they could to keep leading scorer Austy Miller out of the lane. In the process they were able to pick up two charging fouls on her as well and the Railroaders found themselves down 9-0.
Finally, Isabella Hamilton was able to knock down a fielder from the short corner to get Bradford on the board. Bradford stormed back with a bucket from Abby Fike, Brooklyn Crickmore and a triple from Miller to go up 10-9 to end the quarter.
Miller was the only player to score for Bradford in the 2nd period. With Catholic Central focused keeping Austy from driving she took what they gave her from the perimeter connecting on 3 more triples and scoring 15 points in the first half.
The Railroaders were also able to slow down the Irish on offense and held a 21-17 lead at the break.
“They stopped Austy from getting in the lane and she made them pay the price from the outside, getting a lead at the half was really big for us,” Bradford coach Chris Besecker said.
Catholic Central switched defensively again in the 3rd quarter, this time going to a box and one and face guarding Austy, which slowed the pace of the game considerably. Miller was shutout in the 3rd and Bradford scored just 5 points, 4 by Crickmore.
“Austy was a handful and really forced them into a box and one in the second half slowing us down on the offensive end,” Besecker stated.
But the railroaders were just as stingy on defense giving up just 7 points and still held a 28-24 lead going into the 4th quarter.
With the Catholic Central defense still focused on Miller the Roaders needed scoring from other places and got triples from Abby Fike and Rylee Canan for a 34-32 lead with just a minute to go in regulation … but the Irish got another score to send the game into overtime.
Bradford has played a limited varsity bench and has just 8 players in uniform and at times looked more like the walking dead, to add to that, they lost starting forward Brooklyn Crickmore in the 4th quarter, and Miller picked up her 4thfoul, not a good position to be heading into overtime.
The Irish grabbed the lead on a triple by Serenity Castle.
After holding Miller to 2 points in the 2nd half, Coach Besecker tried to break things loose with an old-fashioned continuity offense and the Roaders didn’t panic showed patience and got a couple of easier buckets to take back the lead 40-37.
“We stressed being patient in the continuity looking for ball reversals and kids coming off screens to try and shake someone loose, because they played great defense,” Besecker commented.
Back came the Irish tying it at 40, only to see Miller muscle a shot through a double team to go back up 42-40. Then with 4 seconds left Catholic Central took a timeout to set-up a play which they executed to perfection for an easy lay-up sending the game to a 2nd overtime.
Catholic Central started the 2nd OT with another triple from Castle for the early advantage, Serenity led the Irish with 18 points, 11 coming in the two overtime periods.
Bradford got a huge lift from senior Alexis Barhorst. Barhorst has played limited minutes this year due to injuries but when her number was called she stepped forward in a big way.
With a lot of attention focused on Miller and Rylee Canan, Barhorst was left open in the corner and the moment wasn’t too big splashing down 2 triples the last giving Bradford a 50-47 lead.
“Those two 3’s were big and for her to shoot those in that moment even after she missed a few was unbelievable,” Besecker said.
“She just kept shooting, that kid’s been in the gym since fifth grade as a manager, she loves the game, I’m just really happy for her to get this opportunity and to contribute in a big way to get this win,” Besecker added.
The Roaders held on defense and the Irish fouled Miller; she was good on two charity tosses to preserve the 52-47 win sending Bradford back to the Sectional Title game.
“I’ll tell you what that was a lot of fun,” Besecker said after the game.
“These girls have been so resilient all year long it’s been a tough year due to low numbers and injuries, that says a lot about how our girls battle, it’s been a trademark of theirs over the last few years. They generally don’t panic in game situations where a lot of teams get knocked down and panic, but we just kept plugging away,” Besecker praised.
“I’m just so happy for these girls for making it back to the sectional finals, I don’t believe anyone expected us to get there and it feels good,” Besecker concluded.
Bradford will take on Covington on Saturday at 11am at Trotwood High School for the Sectional Finals.