SPRINGFIELD – West Liberty-Salem pulled away down the stretch and beat Catholic Central, 46-35, in OHC non-divisional girls basketball on Monday.
It was the 11th straight win for the Tigers.
The game was tied at 31-31 with four minutes left when Gabby Hollar pulled up and hit a game-breaker of a three-pointer to nose WL-S in front. Hollar had 9 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“She plays hard. And they were face-guarding her and Kelsey (Day) most of the night. But she still finds ways to get to the basket. That’s just the way she is,” WL-S Coach Dennis McIntosh said.
The Tigers seemed reticent to shoot from the outside early, and fell into a quick 10-4 hole, but rattled off three consecutive baskets in the final 90 seconds of the first quarter to tie the game.
With less than seven seconds left in that first quarter, WL-S’s Grace Estes accelerated through the defense from half court and capped off the opening stanza with a layup at the buzzer. Estes finished with 14 points to lead the Tigers offensively.
The visitors crashed the offensive boards and made the most of a few Catholic Central turnovers in the second quarter, moving out to a 16-14 lead at intermission.
“Our word of the night was ‘attack,’ and that’s what they were trying to do. We thought we could get the ball to the basket. I don’t even know if we attempted a three in the first half,” McIntosh said. “There toward the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter, we hit some shots and it got us where we wanted to be.”
The Tigers (11-3) crashed the offensive boards and denied both penetration and passing lanes – something often difficult to do against the Irish (12-4), who love going to the hoop.
“Defensively, we did a lot of good things. For the most part, we did everything we came out to do,” McIntosh said. “We came out and struggled to hit some shots offensively, especially in the first half. We missed some layups that we don’t normally miss. But they hang together and they play hard.”
In the jayvee contest, WL-S won 25-13. Hallie Smith had 12 points for the Tigers.
West Liberty-Salem plays at Madison Plains on Wednesday and at Northeastern on Thursday.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.