SIDNEY — Some numbers can be very deceiving.
None more than Lehman Catholic senior guard Rylie McIver’s one field goal for two points on Thursday against Springfield Catholic Central.
After Lehman’s 38-35 victory over the Irish to improve to 12-5 on the season and stay unbeaten in 2020, no one knew that more than Cavalier coach Craig Hall.
At the other end of the floor, McIver held Irish star Abbigail Peterson to four points on two field goals, with help from Lauren McFarland.
“No question, Rylie McIver was our MVP tonight,” Hall said. “There offense absolutely runs through Abbigail Peterson. Basically we played a Box-and-3 and Rylie was on Peterson. She did an amazing job. When she needed a break, Lauren McFarland would take over and did a nice job as well.”
One number that was accurate in the boxscore was McFarland’s game-high 18 points.
“That’s the kind of player Lauren (McFarland) is,” Hall said. “She didn’t make as many free throws as she normally does. She is typically 70 percent from the line. But, the kids just battled the whole game.”
And admittedly, the final two minutes was more of a battle than it should have been.
Lehman trying to protect a 37-35 lead, missed 7-of-10 free throws down the stretch and a layup after a steal. But the Cavaliers did the little things they needed to, shutout the Irish down the stretch and gutted out the win.
“I really thought this was a good matchup for us,” Hall said. “Our strength is our speed and so is theirs. So, this was a challenge for us.”
In a game of runs by both teams, Anna Cianciolo hit an NBA 3-pointer to close the first half and give the Cavaliers an 18-15 lead at the break.
“Huge shot,” Hall said. “And we have been working with Anna (Cianciolo) on that. You could just see when the ball left her hand it was going in.”
But Lehman found itself down 31-26 early in the fourth quarter.
“It was a game of runs,” Hall said. “But, the kids just never stopped battling.”
Field goals by Heidi Toner and McIver and two McFarland free throws gave Lehman a 32-31 lead with 5:52 remaining. After Meghan Foster hit a jumper with 2:40 to go to tie it at 33, it only took Cianciolo 13 seconds to answer with a jumper to put Lehman in front.
After a free throw by Emma Kennedy, Mallory Mullen scored inside for the Irish, but missed the free throw that would have finished a three-point play and tied it with 52.2 seconds to go. After Lehman missed a free throw with 51 seconds to go, McFarland grabbed an offensive rebound to save the possession.
McIver went to the line with 45.4 seconds to go and while she missed the free throw, she got the offensive rebound. Cianciolo was fouled with 39.4 seconds to go and made one of two to make it 37-35.
Lehman had a steal, but could not convert it into points. After an Irish miss, McFarland was fouled with 11.3 seconds to go and made one of two free throws to make it 38-35.
Catholic Central threw the ball away on an inbounds with 2.7 seconds to go. Lehman lost the ball on an inbounds pass with one second to go. After an Irish timeout, they could not get a desperation shot off.
“Defense travels,” Hall said. “This was one of the fewest points we have scored in a game, but there is never a reason you can’t play good defense.”
McFarland also had five rebounds and four steals, while Cianciolo had eight points and five rebounds. McIver had seven steals, Hope Anthony had four rebounds and three steals and Toner had five rebounds, two blocks and took a charge.
“I am really proud of these girls and the way they battled all night,” Hall said.
Foster and Mullen had nine points each for the Irish, while Lizzie Bruce and Serenity Castle scored six points each.
Lehman was 12-of-48 from the floor for 25 percent, including 2-of-8 from long range for 25 percent. The Cavaliers made 12-of-23 free throws for 52 percent.
But in the end, Lehman was able to win the only numbers game that mattered.