ANNA — Anna led by as many as eight points in the first quarter of a nonconference game on Thursday, but West Liberty-Salem battled back and had momentum late in the third quarter.
But Emily Aufderhaar hit a couple of key baskets to help the Rockets stave off a comeback threat and earn a 48-35 victory.
West Liberty-Salem cut Anna’s lead to two points late in the third quarter. Ella Doseck hit a pair of free throws to give the Rockets a 29-25 lead with 2:29 left, then came up with a big pass right before the buzzer.
After the Tigers had a turnover with about four seconds left, Doseck threw a pass down Aufderhaar, who hit a mid-range jump shot as the buzzer sounded to boost Anna’s lead to 33-26.
Aufderhaar then hit a basket in the paint 50 seconds into the fourth quarter to extend the Rockets’ lead to 35-26.
“She’s a senior, and she’s going to come through for us when it’s a big moment,” Anna coach Jeff Maurer said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her. She was out for a week with a concussion, and she’s just now getting back in the fold.”
West Liberty-Salem pulled to within five points later in the fourth, but Macey Huelskamp scored back-to-back baskets to put the Rockets up 41-33.
Huelskamp led Anna (4-2, 2-1) with 18 points, while Breah Kuck scored 10. Aufderhaar finished with eight.
Gabbi Hollar led West Liberty-Salem with 12. The Tigers (5-2) made the Div. III districts last year and had won five straight games after a season-opening loss to Fort Loramie.
“This is a great team win,” Maurer said. “That was a good team we just faced, a well-coached team. For us to come out and play like we did, I could not be more proud, especially on the defensive end.”
Anna returns to action on Saturday afternoon at Russia. It’s a big conference game for both schools. Russia (6-0, 2-0) is tied with Fort Loramie for first place in the SCAL, while Anna is tied for Botkins with second.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.