DeGRAFF — A little rest allowed Lehman Catholic to play full of energy — if a little sloppy — in a Northwest Central Conference game against Riverside on Thursday. But despite occasional sloppiness, the Cavaliers’ defensive pressure was too much for the shorthanded Pirates to deal with.
Lehman Catholic pulled away early to earn a 48-23 victory at Kenny Truster Gymnasium in what was its first game in 10 days. It was the second consecutive loss for the Pirates (3-3, 2-1 NWCC), which played most of the game without leading scorer Lauryn Sanford.
The Cavaliers (2-3, 2-0) had 21 steals and forced Riverside into 32 turnovers. Senior guard Rylie McIver, who scored 10 points, led the defensive effort with a team-high nine steals.
“Our game is pushing the ball,” Lehman coach Craig Hall said. “We’re not very big. We’re a typical Lehman team — we’re athletic, but there’s not a lot of pure basketball players. We’re coming along.
“… That’s our strong suit, our athleticism. We need that, too, because we don’t have that dominant scorer. We don’t have a scorer that would finish in the top five, top 10 among Shelby County (teams).”
The squad had balanced scoring on Tuesday. Hope Anthony scored eight of her game-high 12 points in the first half to help the Cavaliers take a 29-13 halftime lead. Anna Cianciolo added 11 points and Lauren McFarland added eight.
Sanford, a junior guard, entered the game with an average of 16.6 points per game. She suffered an ankle injury early in the first quarter and was helped to the bench.
“That was tough, but at the same time, you hope your other girls step up in that situation,” Riverside coach Bryce Hodge said. “That was the worst way to start that game that I could imagine.”
Though Sanford was jogging behind the bench before the second half, she didn’t return to the court.
“The films we watched, their offense ran through her,” Hall said. “You hate to say that for anybody.”
Kirstin Schlumbohm came up big and hit 3-of-4 field goal attempts to lead the Pirates with eight points, but it was a struggle for the squad to get shots. They finished with more turnovers than shot attempts.
“That’s not a recipe for winning basketball,” Hodge said.
Lehman shot 20 for 51 (39 percent) from the field while Riverside shot 10 for 30 (28.6 percent). The Cavaliers outrebounded the Pirates 22-11. Heidi Toner led Lehman with six rebounds and three blocks.
Anthony made a put-back midway through the first quarter to give the Cavaliers a 7-2 lead, and the teams traded points to an 11-6 score at the end of the first quarter.
Lehman dialed up its defensive pressure in the squad quarter and used a flurry of steals to power a 16-2 run over the first five minutes of the quarter.
Another problem for the Pirates in the second quarter was fouls. They committed 11 of their total 13 fouls in the first half, with many coming in the second quarter.
“That was bad,” Hodge said. “We foul too much and are undisciplined. …When you send a team to the line that much, you’re putting the odds against you.”
The Cavaliers didn’t pull away at the free-throw line as much as they could have. They made 8-of-21 free-throw attempts.
“That’s our Achilles heel,” Hall said. “There’s no secret about that. We work on that in practice, but it’s hard. I give a lot of credit to (Riverside’s) fans and big student section tonight. They got hyped up, and it gets to our kids.”
Jade Copas made a basket in the paint and Schlumbohm followed with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 5:34 left in the third to pull Riverside within 29-18. Hall called a timeout, and after that, the Cavaliers scored the next six points and finished the quarter with a 17-3 run.
“We just had to get them settled down,” Hall said. “I told them in the locker room they were going to come out and try to punch us right in the mouth in the start of the second half, and they did.
“But offensively, we weren’t taking care of the ball. The clock should have been our friend in the second half, too, and it wasn’t. But after that timeout, we settled down.”
The Pirates won three of four games to start the season but lost 34-31 on Monday at Jackson Center before losing on Thursday. The squad will look to end the streak on Monday when it hosts Cedarville.
“We’ve got to go work,” Hodge said. “That’s all you can do, get back up and go to work. Hopefully Lauryn’s fine. It’s early in the season, and everything we want to accomplish is ahead of us. It is frustrating to start so well and hit this little rough patch, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong.
“A lot of it is ourselves. We got outworked again tonight like we got outworked the other night against Jackson. Lehman beat us back I don’t know how many times for open layups. We can’t keep getting outworked. That’s the most frustrating part.”
Lehman will play next on Saturday when it hosts St. Henry.