Second-quarter surge sends Goshen past Batavia

Goshen's Paige Garr attempts to block the shot of Batavia's Maggie Mehlman in the first half of Goshen's sectional tournament win on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.
Goshen’s Paige Garr attempts to block the shot of Batavia’s Maggie Mehlman in the first half of Goshen’s sectional tournament win on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.

By Garth Shanklin
Sports Editor

The last time Goshen and Batavia’s girls’ basketball teams met on the court, Goshen celebrated Paige Garr’s 1,000th career point en route to a 58-22 Lady Warrior victory.

Almost a month later, the same two teams returned to the court, but this time Batavia celebrated the milestone.

Senior Maggie Mehlman connected on a jump shot in the first quarter of Batavia’s 52-36 season-ending loss to Goshen on Saturday, Feb. 17, giving her 1,000 career points. She finished the game with 12 points total, and 1,010 for her career at Batavia.

“It’s awesome,” Mehlman said. “I owe it all to my teammates. They’re my rock. They give me everything. I’m speechless, I don’t know what to say.”

Batavia head coach Jim Nau knew what he wanted to say, praising Mehlman for not only her play on the court but her attitude off it.

“I want to congratulate Maggie Mehlman,” Nau said. “It’s a cliché, I guess, but she’s a great basketball player and even better kid. That’s the best leader I’ve ever been around and one of the best kids I’ve ever had the fortune to coach. She’s absolutely magnificent in every way. I respect her both on and off the court, in addition to being a great basketball player.”

Once the festivities died down, it was time to play a sectional tournament game. Like they had twice before this season, Goshen defeated Batavia behind a strong performance from junior Paige Garr.

Garr finished the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds. She also added two assists. Batavia trailed just 9-8 after one quarter, but an 18-3 second period put the game away. Even with Batavia out-scoring Goshen 13-7 in the third period, the Lady Warriors still led by 10 entering the final frame.

“We played Goshen harder and tougher than we did during the season,” Nau said. “They’re just better than us. We have nothing to be ashamed of with the way we fought in this game.”

Goshen head coach Mark Short agreed, adding he felt it was good for the Lady Warriors to be tested a bit early in the tournament.

“They shot the ball much better tonight than they had the first two times we played them,” Short said. “They were motivated tonight, [Mehlman] was going for her 1,000th point, and she got that right away. She didn’t let up after that, so we had to fight for that win. To me, that’s a good thing. You need close games like that, especially in tournament time.”

Part of Goshen’s plan of attack on defense, especially as the game went on, was to key in on Maggie Mehlman and either shut her down offensively, or cause her to foul out. The latter occurred in the fourth quarter.

“We switched up a little bit in the second half, we went to a little bit of a different defense,” Short said. “We knew we had her in foul trouble too, and we just needed one more to get her out. We were very appreciative when we did.”

Garr connected on 12 of 14 attempts from the free-throw line for Goshen, with the rest of the Lady Warriors combined making 10 of 16 attempts.

“When she shoots it, you just assume it’s going in,” Short said. “She came up big at the free-throw line and I thought that was the difference in the game tonight.”

In addition to Garr’s output, Miranda Meyer added seven points for Goshen. Whitney Turner chipped in five points and five assists, with Sami Huhn also adding five points. Maggie Mehlman’s 12-point effort led Batavia, and led Mehlman to fourth place all time in Lady Bulldogs history. Only 11 total players in Batavia history had reached the 1,000 point mark, and only four of those 11 were Lady Bulldogs.

Macie Mehlman scored all eight of her points in the second half. Stephanie Carter scored six second-half points, with another senior, Ciera Currington, adding six. In addition to Maggie Mehlman and Currington, the Goshen game was the final game for Batavia’s Cati Hatfield and Maggie Menke.

The victory for Goshen set up a contest against McNicholas High School on Wednesday, Feb. 21 that was not completed before press time. A victory would send the Lady Warriors to the sectional championship game on Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Walnut Hills High School. Short said getting to that game will not be easy, as McNicholas does several things that will be difficult to stop.

“They’re very tough,” Short said. “They’re in a great league, they’re very physical and they like to get it out and run. We’re going to have to really work on our transition defense and come up with some schemes to counteract their running up and down the floor. Again, when you get a tournament time at some point you have to play some tough teams. That’s what we’ll do.”