By Garth Shanklin
The Batavia Lady Bulldogs and Felicity-Franklin Lady Cardinals tried their best to heat up a chilly Batavia High School gym on Saturday, Jan. 20.
Both teams had several chances to lead early on, but in the end the host Lady Bulldogs pulled out the 44-35 win.
Batavia started the game strong, taking an 8-3 lead with 4:22 left in the first quarter thanks in large part to six points from Maggie Mehlman. Mehlman finished the game with a game-high 16 points, and Felicity-Franklin head coach Kerry Stamper said the Lady Cardinals had to do a better job stopping her from scoring.
“We didn’t have enough toughness on defense,” Stamper said. “We need to work a little harder to shut [Maggie Mehlman] down. We’d shut her down, then leave someone else open.”
Felicity battled back with a pair of free-throws and a three-point shot by Kylie Sponcil to tie the game at eight points. After a three-point shot by Macie Mehlman put Batavia back on top, Felicity tied the game at 11 with a free-throw by Sponcil and a basket by Madison Baird.
Batavia build a lead in the second quarter, pulling away from a 15-12 deficit and taking a 24-16 lead. The Lady Cardinals trailed 27-18 at the half and cut the margin to as little as 28-25 late in the third quarter, only to see Batavia answer with a 7-0 run capped off by a three-point play by Macie Mehlman.
Batavia head coach Jon Nau said he felt Batavia did a good job adjusting to the Lady Cardinals’ defense.
“I thought we played pretty calmly in the second half when they brought the defensive pressure a little bit,” Nau said. “All the girls made good decisions as to when to go to the basket and when to kick it out. We were playing with a lead and we got in foul trouble. Stephanie Carter is injured and out for the next three games, so we’re playing with only six girls.”
Batavia finished the game with fewer than that, as Macie Mehlman fouled out of the game with less than six minutes left in the contest. Maggie Mehlman played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls. Avoiding the final foul was one of several good decisions the Lady Bulldogs made, according to Nau.
“Maggie Mehlman did a great job in her overall floor play,” Nau said. “Ciera Currington, I think, played the entire game and made great decisions on offense and defense, and so did Maggie Menke. She hadn’t played as much but she did a great job on both ends.”
In addition to Maggie Mehlman’s 16 points, Macie Mehlman finished with six. Currington finished with eight, as did Hatfield. Summer Stith finished the game with four points, and Menke two.
Felicity was led by Baird’s 15 points. Sponcil finished with nine, but most importantly every Felicity player cut down on their turnover totals, according to Stamper.
“We only had 12 turnovers, I’m pleased with that,” Stamper said. “That cut last game in half. Boxing out, we didn’t do much of that, offensively or defensively.”
Nau said Batavia’s rebounding was a team effort.
“Hatfield rebounded well underneath,” Nau said. “All the girls did a great job rebounding. We were in our required foul trouble, we had a couple girls with four fouls and Macie Mehlman fouled out in the fourth quarter right after she had a three-point play.”
Nau complimented the Cardinals for their play during the game, noting the importance of the win for Batavia.
“When we had to spread it out, we made good decisions,” Nau said. “It was a great win, and we haven’t had very many. Any we can get is a great win for us. Felicity played well too, we went to zone because of foul trouble and they made a couple outside shots.”
Meanwhile, Stamper said the team never gave up, which was something she was looking for.
“We have to be more aggressive and quicker on the offensive end,” Stamper said. “More shots fall, that’s more points. They didn’t quit, so that’s the important thing.”
Batavia’s next game is on Thursday, Jan. 25 at Goshen. The Lady Cardinals are off until Monday, Jan. 29 when they host the undefeated Williamsburg Lady Wildcats.