Lady Bulldogs win sectional opener

Batavia's Maggie Mehlman drives toward the hoop in the Lady Bulldogs' sectional tournament opening victory over Shroder on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.

Batavia's Maggie Mehlman drives toward the hoop in the Lady Bulldogs' sectional tournament opening victory over Shroder on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.

By Garth Shanklin
Sports Editor

The Batavia Lady Bulldogs entered their sectional tournament opener against Shroder coming off a tough loss in the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference Classic to Blanchester. The Lady Bulldogs’ defense limited the Lady Wildcats to just 35 points, but Batavia’s offense couldn’t get going and the Lady Bulldogs fell by eight.

Five days later, Batavia showed just how good they can be when both the offense and defense are playing well.

Batavia knocked off Shroder 50-33 at Walnut Hills High School on Thursday, Feb. 16 for the team’s first tournament win since 2008.

The game was close throughout the first half. Batavia’s Manhattan Miller hit a three-pointer with 1:18 left in the first quarter to put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 9-3. They held a 9-8 lead at the end of the quarter. Miller connected on a second three-point shot in the second quarter, helping Batavia to a 17-13 lead at the half.

Batavia dominated the third quarter. A total of six foul shots were taken by both teams in the first two minutes of the period. By the 4:51 mark, Batavia led just 19-17. Miller sparked a 17-2 run by hitting back-to-back three pointers 38 seconds apart from one another. Batavia led 36-19 at the end of the third quarter.

After a Maggie Mehlman two-pointer gave Batavia a 40-21 lead with 6:59 remaining, the game slowed down dramatically. The teams combined to score 22 more points from Mehlman’s shot until the end of the game. Of the 22, only six came from the field. The remaining 16 came on foul shots. The teams combined for 29 fouls overall.

Batavia head coach Jon Nau said the Lady Bulldogs’ composure is what allowed them to continue to add to their lead late.

“Things got a little feisty at the end,” “Nau said. We kept our cool, we kept our calm. Maggie Mehlman is such a great leader on both ends of the floor, you worry a bit at the bench but she’s smart enough not to get her fifth.”

Mehlman picked up her fourth foul with 5:50 left in the game, but she was able to play the rest of the way. Batavia did not have a player foul out of the contest. Shroder’s leading scorer, Dy’Jhanik Armfield, fouled out with 1:20 remaining.

“I thought that the difference was that we were calm, calm enough when we needed to be,” Nau said. “We played three freshman basically the whole second half. Steph Carter played a lot better in the second half than in the first, and the two wings, Taylor Myers and Macie Mehlman were calm. They were the ones getting fouled at the end of the game, which indicates they want the ball in their hands. They don’t want to throw it away and go hide in the corner. They want it in their hands, which is a good sign.”

Macie Mehlman connected on three of her four free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter. Myers scored all four of her points on six free-throw attempts in the period. Maggie Mehlman led all scorers with 20 points. She also tallied four rebounds, five steals and four blocks for Batavia. Miller connected on four three-pointers to score 12 points in addition to seven rebounds.

“It’s been a long time since she hit some crucial threes,” Nau said. “She did some of that in December, and she came through in a great way. She gets a little frustrated with herself sometimes when she can’t hit the outside shot but if she gets her feet set, she can hit them. She did that tonight. She’s a senior, she didn’t want to play her last game or feel like she had her last practice.”

Batavia turned the ball over 11 times compared to 19 for Shroder. The Lady Bulldogs also shot better from the floor, connecting on 15 of their 47 attempts (32 percent) compared to just eight of 39 for Shroder (21 percent).

“We were patient with the ball,” Nau said. “We only shot open shots. When they came out and pressured us, we spread out and hit a couple people underneath for some easy buckets. The key was just kind of being calm.”

The win was Batavia’s first tournament win since defeating Bethel-Tate 55-50 in 2008. The Lady Bulldogs fell in their next game to Taft, the same school Batavia faced on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in a game that was not completed before press time. For more on the Lady Bulldogs’ sectional tournament game against the Lady Senators, pick up a copy of the March 2 edition of The Clermont Sun.