UPPER SANDUSKY - Fans didn't need to worry about missing much action if they need to take a bathroom break or make a trip to the concession stand Saturday during the Buckeye Central-Upper Sandusky girls basketball game.
The clock seemingly stopped every eight to 12 seconds as the two squads combined for 41 fouls and 58 turnovers. The end result saw Upper Sandusky playing a hair less sloppy in a 61-51 North Central Conference victory.
"I thought at times we looked sluggish but I understand with all the hoopla that comes along with senior day," said Upper Sandusky coach Brent Fahle, whose team honored senior Marissa Linhart. "We were coming off a big game on Tuesday. We looked sluggish at times but I think we found a way to get the job done."
The win allows Upper Sandusky to keep pace in the Black Division of the NCC as the Rams improved to 10-7 overall and 8-3 in the league. Wynford lost to Colonel Crawford on Saturday to fall from first into a tie with the Rams again, and Bucyrus beat Crestline to improve to 9-2 in the conference. It also sets the stage for a three-way tie for first if Upper Sandusky wins Friday when it travels to Bucyrus.
The Rams will have to play better than they did Saturday for that to be a reality. But one thing that was working for Upper Sandusky was its press as the Bucks had 31 turnovers.
"We didn't play very well today," Buckeye Central coach Sarah Krichbaum said. "Offensively we struggled. We kind of played in streaks offensively. We were able to score sometimes. We couldn't find our game and get into the flow of our game very well. Upper is a good team; they're well coached and they exposed some of our weaknesses."
Fahle said the pressure defense was a headache for his opponent.
"I think our pressure did affect them a little bit. I don't think we converted as much as we could have," Fahle said. "In crucial situations, we ran our press and they did turn the ball over and that definitely helped us out a lot, especially in the first half."
While the Bucks (7-10, 4-7) had more turnovers than Upper Sandusky, it was the loss of their two best players, Maddie Ehresman and Sammi Marcum, to fouls that may have done them in.
"We started out well and we got in some foul trouble," Krichbaum said. "Some of our key players got into foul trouble which hurt us, I think, down the stretch. You can't blame it on the refs. We lost that game. It was just bad fouls on our part."
In the span of two minutes between the first and second quarters, Ehresman picked up three fouls, the last one coming just 52 seconds into the second quarter. She joined Marcum on the bench, who went there with her third just 30 seconds earlier.
It aided the in Rams building a 17-point lead in the third, 43-26, before the Bucks started to battle back on the back of Hannah Heydinger, who had a team-high 13 points. The senior post scored nine of BC's next 11 points as BC cut it back to 10, 47-37, by the end of the third quarter.
"We've done that, I think, three or four times this year," Fahle said. "I think it's just we're still young and we're still learning how to put people away when we're up. Sometimes it's frustrating but when the going gets tough, we find ways to get the job done."
With Ehresman back in the game with four fouls in the fourth, she led the Bucks back to within six with a pair of free throws, 49-43, with six minutes left. She swiped the ball on the ensuing possession, and headed back the other way and into the lane. Waiting for her was Upper Sandusky's Jorden Born, who took the charge, sending the senior PG to the bench.
On Upper Sandusky's following possession, Marcum picked up her fourth foul and a minute and a half later, she joined her teammate on the bench with her fifth, with her team trailing just six, 51-45.
Upper Sandusky pulled away from there, knocking down some layups to make up for the 4-of-11 effort at the line.
"(Getting them fouled out) was key. I don't know what were from the foul line. I'm sure it wasn't very good," Fahle said of the 14-of-24 effort at the stripe. "We need to work on that because that's obviously going to be crucial as we get to the tournament."
Taylor Graboski proved to be more than the Bucks could handle inside, with her double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to go with three blocks. Amber Cox had 12 points and Born had eight points and 11 boards.
"We made a nice run at the end of the game but we just couldn't finish it," Krichbaum said. "We didn't give up and that's what I'm proud of. We played hard until the end of the game. We just couldn't get a couple stops or a couple buckets when we needed them."